Preventing thrombosis: update of first-line therapy in the management of non-ST segment elevation acute coronary syndromes.
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Non-ST segment elevation acute coronary syndrome (NSTE ACS) has a high rate of recurrence. Both antithrombotic and antiplatelet agents in association with coronary revascularization play an important role in the prevention of an adverse outcome. Acetylsalicylic acid, heparin and low molecular weight heparin (especially enoxaparin), and the intravenous small-molecule glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors, are of proven value. Recently, clopidogrel has been shown to reduce recurrent ischemic events, both early and during the first year after the index ACS. Furthermore, two recent trials have shown that an early invasive strategy is preferable to a conservative approach in the higher risk patient. As yet, no study has shown either the efficacy or the safety of combining all these treatment modalities in the management of the NSTE ACS patient. The initial choice of antithrombotic and antiplatelet agents and a strategy for early revascularization is made after considering the risk of recurrent acute ischemic events. For patients destined to have an early invasive strategy, it is desirable to choose an anti-thrombotic/antiplatelet combination that will reduce events before revascularization, enhance the revascularization procedure and not be associated with excessive bleeding. A risk-determined algorithm is presented, which applies observations made at the time of presentation to decide the optimal management for the individual patient.
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