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This article is the author’s final published version in World Journal of Cardiology, Volume 15, Issue 6, June 2023, Pages 309-323.

The published version is available at © The Author(s) 2023. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.


BACKGROUND: ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) is the result of transmural ischemia of the myocardium and is associated with a high mortality rate. Primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PPCI) is the recommended first-line treatment strategy for patients with STEMI. The timely delivery of PPCI became extremely challenging for STEMI patients during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, leading to a projected steep rise in mortality. These delays were overcome by the shift from first-line therapy and the development of modern fibrinolytic-based reperfusion. It is unclear whether fibrinolytic-based reperfusion therapy is effective in improving STEMI endpoints.

AIM: To determine the incidence of fibrinolytic therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on STEMI clinical outcomes.

METHODS: PubMed, Google Scholar, Scopus, Web of Science, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials were queried from January 2020 up to February 2022 to identify studies investigating the effect of fibrinolytic therapy on the prognostic outcome of STEMI patients during the pandemic. Primary outcomes were the incidence of fibrinolysis and the risk of all-cause mortality. Data were meta-analyzed using the random effects model to derive odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals. Quality assessment was carried out using the Newcastle-Ottawa scale.

RESULTS: Fourteen studies including 50136 STEMI patients (n = 15142 in the pandemic arm; n = 34994 in the pre-pandemic arm) were included. The mean age was 61 years; 79% were male, 27% had type 2 diabetes, and 47% were smokers. Compared with the pre-pandemic period, there was a significantly increased overall incidence of fibrinolysis during the pandemic period [OR: 1.80 (1.18 to 2.75); I2= 78%; P = 0.00; GRADE: Very low]. The incidence of fibrinolysis was not associated with the risk of all-cause mortality in any setting. The countries with a low-and middle-income status reported a higher incidence of fibrinolysis [OR: 5.16 (2.18 to 12.22); I2 = 81%; P = 0.00; GRADE: Very low] and an increased risk of all-cause mortality in STEMI patients [OR: 1.16 (1.03 to 1.30); I2 = 0%; P = 0.01; GRADE: Very low]. Meta-regression analysis showed a positive correlation of hyperlipidemia (P = 0.001) and hypertension (P < 0.001) with all-cause mortality.

CONCLUSION: There is an increased incidence of fibrinolysis during the pandemic period, but it has no effect on the risk of all-cause mortality. The low- and middle-income status has a significant impact on the all-cause mortality rate and the incidence of fibrinolysis.

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