Since introduction of modern Coronary Care Units, hospital mortality has been reduced by about 50%. This is most likely due to a number of treatments that today are well established. Those include detection and treatment of serious arrhythmias with antiarrhythmic agents and electrical conversion, and more aggressive early treatment of congestive heart failure, of chest pain, and of atrioventricular (AV) block and bradyarrhythmias. The new goals in early management of suspected acute myocardial infarction must aim at prevention and limitation of ischemic damage. The use of β-blockers has been widely studied. Data from 27 randomized trials with a total of about 27,000 patients have convincingly shown that early β-blockade reduces mortality, prevents and limits infarct development and arrhythmias, and reduces infarct complications. Three large trials, the Göteborg and MIAMI Trials on metoprolol and the ISIS Trial on atenolol, have demonstrated significant beneficial effects and good tolerance. Thrombolytic therapy in patients with signs of acute myocardial infarction, mainly streptokinase, has demonstrated significant reduction of short-term mortality. The large Italian GISSI Trial, including almost 12,000 patients, showed very significant reduction in 21 day mortality by streptokinase, and the earlier treatment started, the better the reduction. Pooling all published studies in the literature also shows the same favorable effects on mortality. Early treatment with thrombolytic therapy might also prevent and limit infarct development and preserve myocardial function. Recent large scale studies have convincingly demonstrated the value of early β-blockade and of thrombolytic therapy in selected patients with signs of acute myocardial infarction. It seems reasonable to change the management in the acute phase of myocardial infarction based upon recent major clinical trials.
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