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Diurnal, weekly and seasonal variations of chest pain in patients transported by emergency medical services


Objectives Chest pain is among the leading causes for emergency medical services (EMS) activation. Acute myocardial infarction (MI) is not only one of the most critical aetiologies of chest pain, but also one of few conditions encountered by EMS that has been shown to follow a circadian pattern. Understanding the diurnal relationship between the inflow of chest pain patients and the likelihood of acute MI may inform prehospital and emergency department (ED) healthcare providers regarding the prediction, and hence prevention, of dire outcomes.

Methods This was a secondary analysis of previously collected data from an observational prospective study that enrolled consecutive chest pain patients transported by a large metropolitan EMS system in the USA. We used the time of EMS call to determine the time-of-day of the indexed encounter. Two independent reviewers examined available medical data to determine our primary outcome, the presence of MI, and our secondary outcomes, infarct size and 30-day major adverse cardiac events (MACE). We estimated infarct size using peak troponin level.

Results We enrolled 2065 patients (age 56±17, 53% males, 7.5% with MI). Chest pain encounters increased from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM, with a peak at 1:00 PM and a nadir at 6:00 AM. Acute MI had a bimodal distribution with two peaks: 10 AM in ST-elevation MI, and 10 PM in non-ST-elevation MI. ST-elevation MI with afternoon onset was an independent predictor of infarct size. Acute MI with winter and early spring presentation was an independent predictor of 30-day MACE.

Conclusions EMS-attended chest pain calls follow a diurnal pattern, with the most vulnerable patients encountered during afternoons and winter/spring seasons. These data can inform prehospital and ED healthcare providers regarding the time of presentation where patients are more likely to have an underlying MI and subsequently worse outcomes.

  • chest - non trauma
  • emergency ambulance systems
  • pre-hospital
  • acute coronary syndrome
  • acute myocardial infarct

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