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Acute Card Care. 2009;11(4):195-203. doi: 10.1080/17482940903168191.

Percutaneous coronary intervention following thrombolysis: for whom and when?

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Royal Brompton Hospital and Imperial College, London, UK.


Primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PPCI) is the treatment of choice for patients with ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). In the attempt to reduce the unfavourable effects of time delays before PPCI, the administration of thrombolysis has been advocated (facilitated-PCI), but this treatment was shown to be ineffective and harmful, and should be avoided in patients who can receive PPCI promptly. Fibrinolysis is still indicated when PPCI is not available within 90-120 min but 1/3 of STEMI patients undergoing fibrinolysis does not show signs of reperfusion and even when reperfusion is achieved they have a considerable risk of death and recurrent MI. Thus invasive management with early PCI could be complementary to fibrinolysis both to obtain coronary reperfusion in those patients with failed thrombolysis (rescue-PCI) and to decrease the risk of further ischaemic events in patients with successful thrombolysis. In this article we show that this synergy has been supported by modern randomized control trials and meta-analysis. It is advisable that organization model of territorial network for the treatment of STEMI patients should be expanded to provide a timely access to hospital with interventional facilities also to patients treated with fibrinolysis that need rescue-PPCI or an urgent/early invasive management.

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