In order to study the safety of 'rescue' strategies in the treatment of patients with failed thrombolysis, all 548 patients admitted with evolving myocardial infarction to the Thoraxcenter, Rotterdam, from January 1997 until April 1999 were reviewed. Of these patients, 49% had received thrombolysis. Of patients treated with thrombolysis and not referred from other hospitals (n=154) 36% received rescue therapy for failed thrombolysis. Three rescue therapies were used after failed thrombolysis: percutaneous coronary intervention (74%), retreatment with thrombolysis (39%) and platelet glycoprotein (GP) IIb/IIIa receptor blockers (53%), often in combination. Platelet GP IIb/IIIa receptor blockers were administered in 64% of patients treated with rescue percutaneous coronary intervention. Major bleeding occurred in 14% of all thrombolysis treated patients, and in 30% of patients who received multiple rescue therapies. Bleeding was related to heparin usage and platelet GP IIb/IIIa receptor blockers, as was the insertion of catheters for percutaneous coronary intervention or intra-aortic balloon pumps. Major bleeding resulted in one death due to a ruptured ventricle, one haemorrhagic stroke, and three cases of tamponade for which surgery was needed. Four of these patients had received combination rescue therapy. Rescue therapy is a widely used strategy for failed thrombolysis, but is associated with a high bleeding rate. Alternative reperfusion strategies to avoid failed thrombolysis should be considered in high risk patients.

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European Heart Journal
Department of Cardiology

Ronner, E, van Domburg, R.T, van den Brand, M.J.B.M, de Feyter, P.J, Foley, D.P, van der Giessen, W.J, … Simoons, M.L. (2002). Platelet GP IIb/IIIa receptor blockers for failed thrombolysis in acute myocardial infarction, alone or as adjunct to other rescue therapies: A single centre retrospective analysis of 548 consecutive patients with acute myocardial infarction. European Heart Journal, 23(19), 1529–1537. doi:10.1053/euhj.2002.3169