Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: The appropriate treatment for patients in whom reperfusion fails to occur after thrombolytic therapy for acute myocardial infarction remains unclear. There are few data comparing emergency percutaneous coronary intervention (rescue PCI) with conservative care in such patients, and none comparing rescue PCI with repeated thrombolysis. METHODS: We conducted a multicenter trial in the United Kingdom involving 427 patients with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction in whom reperfusion failed to occur (less than 50 percent ST-segment resolution) within 90 minutes after thrombolytic treatment. The patients were randomly assigned to repeated thrombolysis (142 patients), conservative treatment (141 patients), or rescue PCI (144 patients). The primary end point was a composite of death, reinfarction, stroke, or severe heart failure within six months. RESULTS: The rate of event-free survival among patients treated with rescue PCI was 84.6 percent, as compared with 70.1 percent among those receiving conservative therapy and 68.7 percent among those undergoing repeated thrombolysis (overall P=0.004). The adjusted hazard ratio for the occurrence of the primary end point for repeated thrombolysis versus conservative therapy was 1.09 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.71 to 1.67; P=0.69), as compared with adjusted hazard ratios of 0.43 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.26 to 0.72; P=0.001) for rescue PCI versus repeated thrombolysis and 0.47 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.28 to 0.79; P=0.004) for rescue PCI versus conservative therapy. There were no significant differences in mortality from all causes. Nonfatal bleeding, mostly at the sheath-insertion site, was more common with rescue PCI. At six months, 86.2 percent of the rescue-PCI group were free from revascularization, as compared with 77.6 percent of the conservative-therapy group and 74.4 percent of the repeated-thrombolysis group (overall P=0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Event-free survival after failed thrombolytic therapy was significantly higher with rescue PCI than with repeated thrombolysis or conservative treatment. Rescue PCI should be considered for patients in whom reperfusion fails to occur after thrombolytic therapy.

Original publication




Journal article


N Engl J Med

Publication Date





2758 - 2768


Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Angioplasty, Balloon, Coronary, Cardiovascular Diseases, Cross-Over Studies, Female, Fibrinolytic Agents, Humans, Incidence, Male, Middle Aged, Myocardial Infarction, Recombinant Proteins, Secondary Prevention, Survival Analysis, Thrombolytic Therapy, Tissue Plasminogen Activator, Treatment Failure