Research Article

How long should patients with suspected myocardial infarction be under observation in hospital?

Br Med J 1980; 281 doi: (Published 01 November 1980) Cite this as: Br Med J 1980;281:1170
  1. A Poukkula,
  2. E Huhti


    Out of 368 patients admitted to hospital for chest pain and suspected acute myocardial infarction, 267 were discharged within 24 hours on the basis of the clinical picture, electrocardiogram, and serum activities of aspartate transaminase, alpha-hydroxybutyrate dehydrogenase, and creatine phosphokinase. The patients were followed up for 28 days, during which 17 were readmitted, two of them twice and one three times. Two of the patients were readmitted with non-fatal acute myocardial infarction, and two died. The patients had been primarily divided into two groups: those admitted with presumably non-coronary chest pain (77 patients) formed group 1 and those with obvious coronary chest pain (190 patients) group 2. Both deaths occurred in patients in group 2 but the incidences of events during the follow-up period were otherwise similar in the two groups, and some patients in both groups may have had small acute myocardial infarctions when first admitted. The decision to keep in hospital or discharge a patient with chest pain of recent onset can be made within 24 hours of admission. To discharge the patient acute myocardial infarction need not necessarily be excluded and conventional tests are enough to enable a decision to be made.