Background: Elderly patients with acute myocardial infarction have much to gain from reperfusion with thrombolytic therapy but are also at increased risk of adverse events. We examined outcomes according to age of patients receiving thrombolysis in an international trial. Methods and Results: Patients were randomized to streptokinase plus subcutaneous heparin, streptokinase plus intravenous heparin, accelerated tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) plus intravenous heparin, or streptokinase and TPA plus intravenous heparin. Clinical outcomes at 30 days (death, stroke, and nonfatal, disabling stroke) and 1-year mortality were summarized descriptively for patients aged <65 (n=24 708), 65 to 74 (n=11 201), 75 to 85 (n=4625), and >85 years (n=412) and assessed as continuous functions of age. Older patients had a higher-risk profile with regard to baseline clinical and angiographic characteristics. Mortality at 30 days increased markedly with age (3.0%, 9.5%, 19.6%, and 30.3% in the four groups, respectively), as did stroke, cardiogenic shock, bleeding, and reinfarction. Combined death or disabling stroke occurred less often with accelerated TPA in all but the oldest patients, who showed a weak trend toward a lower incidence with streptokinase plus subcutaneous heparin: odds ratio 1.13; 95% confidence interval 0.6, 2.1. Similarly, accelerated TPA treatment resulted in lower 1- year mortality in all but the oldest patients (47% TPA versus 40.3% streptokinase). Conclusions: Lower mortality and greater net clinical benefit were seen with accelerated TPA in patients aged ≤85 years. Because data are limited for patients aged >85 years, the relative superiority of a given thrombolytic regimen cannot be determined. The interactions of stroke and mortality with newer thrombolytic strategies must be examined explicitly in older patients.
- tissue plasminogen activator