Streptokinase (1 million international units) was given intravenously over 30 or 60 minutes to 50 patients four hours or less after the onset of acute myocardial infarction. All were aged less than or equal to 70 years and had 4 mm or greater ST segment elevation in anterior or inferior leads. Rapid (mean 95 min) ST segment resolution, which was taken to indicate reperfusion of the myocardium, occurred in 36 (72%) patients. In these 36 the average time from onset of symptoms to peak creatine kinase, creatine kinase MB, and myoglobin was 9.45 hours, whereas it was 17 hours in the 14 patients in whom indirect criteria did not indicate reperfusion. Reperfusion arrhythmias were invariably present and ventricular tachycardia developed in five patients and ventricular fibrillation in two. The infarct related artery was seen to be open in 28 (70%) of the 40 patients who had delayed coronary arteriography. The frequency of patency in the infarct related artery was no different in patients given streptokinase less than 2 hours or between 2-4 hours from onset of symptoms nor did it differ when streptokinase was infused over 30 or 60 minutes. Mean left ventricular ejection fraction was 57% in those with a patient infarct related artery and 48% in those with an occluded vessel. Eight patients subsequently underwent elective percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty after successful thrombolysis and six had coronary artery bypass grafting. There were nine in-hospital reocclusions of the infarct related coronary arteries. Two bleeding episodes occurred; one required transfusion. Five of the 50 patients died in hospital. All of them had had an anterior myocardial infarction; four had bifascicular block and one had right bundle branch block. During follow up, four patients died, two suddenly and two from reinfarction. During follow up (mean 15 months) the frequency of reinfarction, dyspnoea, and angina was low and there was no difference in the proportions of patients returning to work between those with an open infarct related artery and those with a closed infarct related artery. Intravenous administration of high dose streptokinase to selected patients during the acute phase of myocardial infarction is a safe, effective, and practical method of thrombolysis. It must, however, be followed by coronary arteriography to select those patients in whom percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty or coronary artery bypass grafting will be helpful.
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