Background

Despite the promise of telemedicine to improve care for ischaemic heart disease, there are significant obstacles to implementation. Demonstrating improvement in patient-centred outcomes is important to support development of these innovative strategies.

Objective

To assess the impact of telemedicine interventions on mortality after acute myocardial infarction (AMI).

Methods

Articles were searched in MEDLINE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Literatura Latino-Americana e do Caribe em Ciências da Saúde (LILACS), Base de Dados de Enfermagem (BDENF), Indice Bibliográfico Español en Ciencias de la Salud (IBECs), Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar, from January 2004 to January 2018. Study selection and data extraction were performed by two independent reviewers. In-hospital mortality (primary outcome), and door-to-balloon (DTB) time, 30-day mortality and long-term mortality (secondary outcomes) were assessed. Random effects models were applied to estimate pooled results.

Results

Thirty non-randomised controlled and seven quasi-experimental studies were included (16 960 patients). They were classified as moderate or serious risk of bias by ROBINS-I (Risk Of Bias In Non-randomized Studies–of Interventions tool). In 31 studies, the intervention was prehospital ECG transmission. Telemedicine was associated with reduced in-hospital mortality compared with usual care (relative risk (RR) 0.63(95% confidence interval[CI] 0.55 to 0.72); I2 <0.001%). DTB time was consistently reduced (mean difference –28 (95% CI –35 to –20) min), but showed large heterogeneity (I2=94%). Thirty-day mortality (RR 0.62;95% CI 0.43 to 0.85) and long-term mortality (RR 0.61(95% CI 0.40 to 0.92)) were also reduced, with moderate heterogeneity (I2=52%).

Conclusions

There is moderate-quality evidence that telemedicine strategies, in particular ECG transmission, combined with the usual care for AMI are associated with reduced in-hospital mortality and very-low quality evidence that they reduce DTB time, 30-day mortality and long-term mortality.

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