Assessment and Management of Acute Coronary Syndromes (ACS): A Canadian Perspective on Current Guideline-Recommended Treatment – Part 1: Non-ST–Segment Elevation ACS
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Despite the reduction of coronary heart disease mortality over the past 40 years, hospital admissions for acute coronary syndromes (ACS) continue to increase. The goal of this 2-part article is to review the issues at each stage of assessment and management of the ACS patient, and to propose an optimal treatment strategy for the individual patient in the context of the realities, culture, and delivery of healthcare in Canada. ACS patients are categorized as either ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) or non-ST-elevation ACS (NSTE-ACS). For the patients with NSTE-ACS, prevention of recurrent ischemic events is the primary goal. Assessment of risk for recurrent ischemic and bleeding events helps to determine the net benefit of early cardiac catheterization and percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) and intensive antiplatelet and anticoagulant treatment. Those with higher ischemic risk features should be considered for an early invasive strategy and receive both dual antiplatelet therapy and an anticoagulant at the time of first medical assessment. Patients without high-risk features could be considered for medical treatment and a selectively invasive strategy; with coronary angiography and revascularization only if high-risk features become apparent. Long-term vascular protection with lifestyle modification (especially smoking cessation), lipid lowering, blood pressure and glycemic control, and the use of renin angiotensin aldosterone system (RAAS) blockade to prevent recurrent ischemic events, is important in all patients with ACS.
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