Heart, Lung and Circulation

Impact of Pre-Hospital Activation of STEMI on False Positive Activation Rate and Door to Balloon Time

Published:December 15, 2021DOI:


      Pre-hospital identification of ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) by paramedical staff reduces reperfusion time. However, the impact of this approach on the rate of unnecessary activation of coronary catheterisation lab (CCL) remains unclear.


      The study reviewed consecutive STEMI patients over 3 years (July 2015 to June 2018) from all primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PPCI) centres and inter-hospital transfers (IHT) from non-PPCI capable centres in Western Australia. Out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OOHCA) and STEMI calls for in-patients receiving treatment for other medical reasons were excluded.


      During the 3 years study period, 1,736 STEMI cases were recorded. Pre-hospital (PH) activation occurred in 799 (46%) cases. Median door to balloon time (D2BT) was 68 minutes (IQR 63 mins). D2BT for PH activation (40 min [IQR 25 min]) was significantly lower than both the PPCI centre emergency department (ED) activation (86 min [IQR 55 min]) and IHT activation groups (108 min [IQR 55 min]), p-value <0.00001. In PH activation group 98% patients received primary PCI in less than 90 minutes compared to 54% and 26% patients in the ED and the IHT activation groups, respectively.
      False positive STEMI activation rate was lower in the PH activation group (2.75%) compared to ED activation (5.4%) and IHT group (6%), p-value 0.0115. The false positive rate did not vary significantly between working hours and out-of-hour calls (5% vs 4%, p-value=0.304). Pericarditis, coronary artery disease other than STEMI, atypical chest pain, and stress induced cardiomyopathy were the common diagnoses in false positive activations.


      Pre-hospital activation of STEMI leads to reduced door to balloon times without a significant increase in inappropriate procedures, though false positive activation rates are unclear. The majority of STEMI patients transferred from non-PPCI centres failed to receive reperfusion therapy within 90 minutes of initial hospital presentation. Further studies are required to assess the benefits of thrombolysis in selected patients in inter-hospital transfer group.


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