Thrombolytic therapy in acute myocardial infarction

J. D. Rutherford, E. Braunwald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Recombinant tissue-type plasminogen activator (rt-PA), streptokinase (SK), and anisoylated plasminogen-streptokinase activator complex (APSAC) have salutary effects on mortality when administered to patients with evolving acute myocardial infarction (MI). Studies suggest that intravenous rt-PA is more effective in reperfusing occluded infarct-related arteries that SK, and the results of ongoing studies directly comparing the influence of SK and rt-PA on mortality are awaited. The clinical role of agents such as APSAC, urokinase, and pro-urokinase, used alone or in combination, remains to be determined. It is evident that a variety of thrombolytic agents will be effective, and variables such as ease of administration, pharmacokinetics, fibrin specificity, effects on blood viscosity, and incidence of adverse effects need to be assessed to determine which agents are the most suitable for clinical use. There is an increased risk of bleeding at vascular puncture sites with all thrombolytic agents. Current indications for thrombolytic therapy include ischemic chest pain of at least 30 min duration that is unrelieved by nitroglycerin and is associated with ST-segment elevations of at least 0.1 mV in two contiguous electrocardiographic leads. Such therapy is usually reserved for patients less than 75 years old who are not at increased risk for bleeding and whose chest pain began less than 4-6 h prior to treatment. Trials are under way to determine whether patients with shorter pain duration, transient ST-segment changes (ie, unstable angina patients), chest pain associated with ST-segment depressions or T-wave inversions (ie, non-Q-wave infarction patients), or patients whose pain begin more than 4 to 6 h earlier will benefit from early thrombolytic therapy. Other factors such as patient age, the likelihood of the diagnosis of MI, and the estimated risk of bleeding should also be considered. The findings of available major randomized trials indicate that early invasive procedures are generally unnecessary and that meticulous care must be exercised in the selection and management of patients subjected to thrombolytic therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136S-145S
Issue number4 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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