Highly selected low-risk patients can be safely sent home about 24 hours after successful percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) for ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) when supported by intense, multidisciplinary virtual follow-up, a prospective study suggests for the first time.
The risk for major adverse cardiac events (MACE) in STEMI patients following an early hospital discharge (EHD) pathway was similar at 9 months to that seen for propensity-matched historic control subjects who met the same EHD criteria but were discharged later than 48 hours.
The stay in almost half (48%) the early discharge group was 24 hours or less, according to the study, published Dec. 13 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
“We’ve shown that if we use appropriate risk criteria and instigate the appropriate, safe follow-up that it’s safe to select and discharge low-risk patients at an earlier time period, such as 24 hours,” senior author Daniel A. Jones, PhD, Barts Heart Centre, London, this news organization.
“Obviously, it’s one center in one city in the world,” he said. “Whether it’s applicable at other heart site centers, I believe it is, but I think we need more data to be able to change guidelines.”
Current European Society of Cardiology guidelines say that select patients should be considered for early discharge 48 to 72 hours after STEMI, but the COVID-19 pandemic incentivized the team to try and push that window.
“The COVID pandemic essentially brought a focus on resources, on minimizing the risk to our patient population in terms of catching COVID within hospital,” he said. “It became clear that to maintain the heart site service, we probably needed to get people out a bit quicker than we did before, so we came up with this pathway.”
Between March 2020 and June 2021, 600 patients presenting with STEMI were entered into the EHD pathway if they met the following pre-existing criteria for 48- to 72-hour discharge:
- Left ventricular ejection fraction 40% or greater
- Successful primary PCI with TIMI flow grade 3
- Absence of bystander disease requiring inpatient revascularization
- No recurrent ischemic symptoms
- No heart failure
- No significant arrhythmias
- No hemodynamic instability
- No significant comorbidity
- Suitable social circumstances for early discharge
The patients were given cardiac rehabilitation counseling over the phone within 48 hours and blood pressure machines if not available at home. At weeks 2 and 8, they spoke virtually with a dedicated cardiology advanced care practitioner who up-titrated medications and answered any questions. At week 12, they were seen by an interventional cardiologist or at a high-risk prevention clinic.
Their mean age was 59.2 years, 86% were male, the median symptom-to-balloon time was 80 minutes, and median door-to-balloon time was 50 minutes.
The early discharge patients were compared with 700 historic control subjects who met the EHD criteria and were discharged after 48 hours from Oct. 2018 to June 2021 and 560 patients discharged on standard-care pathways between April 2020 and June 2021.
Those discharged after 48 hours were more likely to have an anterior MI, multivessel disease, and multivessel PCI.