Incidence, diagnoses and outcomes of ambulance attendances for chest pain: a population-based cohort study

Luke P. Dawson, Emily Andrew, Ziad Nehme, Jason Bloom, Daniel Okyere, Shelley Cox, David Anderson, Michael Stephenson, Jeffrey Lefkovits, Andrew J. Taylor, David Kaye, Karen Smith, Dion Stub

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Aims: This study aimed to determine incidences, diagnoses, and outcomes of patients with chest pain attended by paramedics using a large population-based sample. Methods: Consecutive emergency medical services (EMS) attendances for non-traumatic chest pain in Victoria, Australia from January 2015 to June 2019 were included. Data were individually linked to emergency, hospital admission and mortality records. Results: During the study period (representing 22,186,930 person-years), chest pain was the reason for contacting EMS in 257,017 of 2,736,570 attendances (9.4%). Overall incidence of chest pain attendances was 1,158 (per 100,000 person-years) with a higher incidence observed with increasing age, among females, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, in regional settings, and in socially disadvantaged areas. The most common diagnoses were non-specific pain (46%; 30-day mortality 0.5%), non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (5.3%; mortality 1.3%), pneumonia (3.8%; mortality 3.9%), stable coronary syndromes (3.5%; mortality 0.8%), unstable angina (3.3%; mortality 1.3%), and ST-elevation myocardial infarction (2.8%; mortality 7.0%), while pulmonary embolism (0.7%; mortality 3.2%) and aortic pathologies (0.2%; mortality 22.2%) were rare. Conclusions: Chest pain accounts for one in ten ambulance calls, and underlying causes are diverse. Almost half of patients are discharged from hospital with a diagnosis of non-specific pain and low rates of mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-39
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • Acute coronary syndromes
  • Chest pain
  • Emergency medical services
  • Epidemiology
  • Outcomes

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