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Acad Emerg Med. 2006 Jan;13(1):84-9. Epub 2005 Dec 19.

Prehospital 12-lead electrocardiography impact on acute myocardial infarction treatment times and mortality: a systematic review.

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Department of Emergency Services, Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Center, Toronto, Canada.



Prehospital 12-lead electrocardiogram (PHECG) interpretation and advance emergency department (ED) notification may improve time-to-treatment intervals for a variety of treatment strategies to improve outcome in acute myocardial infarction. Despite consensus guidelines recommending this intervention, few emergency medical services (EMS) employ this. The authors systematically reviewed the literature to report whether mortality or treatment time intervals improved when compared with standard care.


The authors used the Cochrane strategy to search MEDLINE, EMBASE, Current Contents, Dissertation Abstracts, Cochrane Library, and Index of Scientific and Technical Proceedings. Bibliographies and grant-agency Websites were reviewed, and primary investigators and industry were contacted for published and unpublished studies. Inclusion criteria included PHECG and advance ED notification versus standard EMS care; controlled trials; English only; and evaluation of treatment time intervals, all-cause mortality, or both. Study selection was hierarchical, blinded, and independent. Agreement at each level of review was evaluated by using a kappa statistic. Study quality was measured with a validated scale and was interpreted by two independent reviewers.


A total of 1,283 citations were identified, and five studies met the inclusion criteria. The weighted kappa for selection was 0.61 (standard error [SE], 0.045) for titles, 0.63 (SE, 0.051) for abstracts, and 0.79 (SE, 0.146) for full articles. Mean study quality measures by two independent reviewers were 6.0/15 and 5.5/15 (correlation coefficient, 0.85; p = 0.06). PHECG and advance ED notification increased the weighted mean on-scene time by 1.2 minutes (95% confidence interval [95% CI] = -0.84 to 3.2). The weighted mean door-to-needle interval was shortened by 36.1 minutes (95% CI = 9.3 to 63.0: range of means, 22-48 minutes vs. 50-97 minutes). One study reported all-cause mortality, with a statistically nonsignificant reduction from 15.6% to 8.4%.


For patients with AMI, the literature would suggest that PHECG and advanced ED notification reduces in hospital time to fibrinolysis. One controlled trial found no difference in mortality with this out-of-hospital intervention.

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