Randomized trial of thrombolysis versus heparin in unstable angina.
BACKGROUND The clinical usefulness of intravenous thrombolytic therapy in unstable angina is currently unknown, despite the pathogenetic similarity of this entity to acute myocardial infarction, for which thrombolysis has enjoyed great success. To compare the clinical benefit of intravenous urokinase with that of conventional antithrombotic therapy in preventing the progression of unstable angina to new myocardial infarction, intractable angina, or death within the first 96 hours after hospitalization, 149 patients with unstable angina were randomized to one of two intravenous thrombolytic strategies.
METHODS AND RESULTS Forty-nine patients received 3 million units urokinase i.v. over 90 minutes plus intravenous heparin (group A); 47 patients received unblinded 3 million units urokinase i.v. plus 325 mg aspirin p.o. daily (group B); and 53 patients received placebo thrombolytic infusion plus full-dose heparin (group C). The primary end point of this trial was 96-hour clinical status. There were no significant differences in the baseline characteristics (age, sex, previous myocardial infarction, hypertension prevalence, diabetes, tobacco use, or previous revascularization) among the three groups. Despite an excess of minor untoward reactions for the urokinase groups (chills, 26.5% and 23.4% for groups A and B versus 0% for group C; p < 0.01), there was no significant difference with respect to major bleeds (two, none, and two for groups A, B, and C, respectively; p = NS). At 96 hours after presentation, no significant difference emerged in the incidence of new cardiac events: new myocardial infarctions developed in 10.2% of group A, 6.4% of group B, and 3.8% of group C (p = NS); intractable angina occurred in 6.1% of group A, 10.6% of group B, and 9.4% of group C (p = NS). There were no deaths. All three groups encountered a similar incidence of overall cardiac events: 16.3%, 17.0%, and 13.2% for groups A, B, and C, respectively (p = NS). Although trial enrollment was to extend to 600 patients, interim analysis led to early cessation of enrollment due to a negative trend in respect to outcome after thrombolysis.
CONCLUSIONS High-dose intravenous urokinase followed by either heparin or aspirin can be safely administered to a broad, unselected group of patients with unstable angina. However, this study suggests that no clinical advantage is conferred by urokinase, with either adjunctive antithrombotic therapy over standard heparin therapy alone, when given relatively late (mean, 8.7 hours) after admission for unstable angina. A possible detrimental effect cannot be excluded.
- Copyright © 1992 by American Heart Association