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Circulation. 1995 Apr 1;91(7):1923-8.

Link between the angiographic substudy and mortality outcomes in a large randomized trial of myocardial reperfusion. Importance of early and complete infarct artery reperfusion. GUSTO-I Investigators.

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National Health Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Centre, University of Sydney, Australia.



The Global Utilization of Streptokinase and TPA for Occluded Coronary Arteries (GUSTO-I) trial was designed to test whether thrombolytic strategies achieving more complete, early, sustained coronary artery patency would lead to further reductions in mortality in patients with acute myocardial infarction. An angiographic substudy within GUSTO-I provided a unique opportunity to examine the relation between mortality and degrees of patency among the regimens.


Four thrombolytic strategies were compared in 41,021 patients in GUSTO-I: streptokinase with subcutaneous or intravenous heparin, accelerated tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) with intravenous heparin, and combination streptokinase plus TPA with intravenous heparin. Accelerated TPA was associated with lower 30-day mortality (6.3%) than the other strategies (7.2%, 7.4%, and 7.0%, respectively). Among the 1210 patients in the angiographic substudy randomized to angiography 90 minutes after starting treatment, there was improved patency, particularly Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction (TIMI) grade 3 flow, with accelerated TPA over the other regimens (P < .0001). Coronary artery perfusion (TIMI grade 3) at 90 minutes was also a significant predictor of 30-day survival (P < .01). To determine whether differences in mortality among the four strategies matched differences in 90-minute patency, a model was developed for predicting mortality differences in the main trial from the angiographic substudy. The model assumed that any differences in treatment effects on 30-day mortality were mediated through differences in 90-minute patency for the four treatments. The predicted rates were then compared with observed mortality rates of the remaining patients in the main trial for each treatment group. The predicted and observed 30-day mortality rates of the four treatments were streptokinase with subcutaneous heparin, 7.46% versus 7.28%; streptokinase with intravenous heparin, 7.26% versus 7.39%; accelerated TPA, 6.31% versus 6.37%; and streptokinase plus TPA, 6.98% versus 6.96%. The correlation between predicted and observed results was .97, and the proportion of squared error explained (R2) was .92.


The close relation between the predicted and observed 30-day mortality rates supports the concept that an important mechanism for improved survival with thrombolytic therapy is achievement of early, complete perfusion. The close match provides a strong biological explanation for the mortality differences seen in GUSTO-I and a sound rationale for the additional survival advantage of the accelerated TPA regimen. Irrespective of which treatment is used, early and complete restoration of infarct artery perfusion represents an essential goal of myocardial reperfusion therapy.

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