Maximizing benefits of therapies in acute myocardial infarction
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Major advances in the management of acute myocardial infarction have been achieved by a combination of careful experimental work and development of effective pharmacologic and interventional strategies in conjunction with the conduct of large, reliable randomized trials. Current trials indicate that a combination of thrombolytic therapy, aspirin, and intravenous followed by oral beta blockers reduces mortality. There are a number of additional promising interventions, such as intravenous magnesium, nitrates, and the newer antithrombin agents. However, before these agents are used widely in clinical practice, clear proof of benefit and adequate safety should be available from the ongoing randomized trials. Following discharge from the hospital, long-term therapy with aspirin and beta blockers should be considered in all patients. In patients with heart failure and low ejection fraction, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors have been shown to reduce mortality, reinfarction, and the need for further hospitalizations for heart failure. Therefore, these therapies, in conjunction with risk factor modification (cessation of cigarette smoking, treatment of hypercholesterolemia, treatment of hypertension), should be considered in all appropriate patients. A number of new strategies for the prevention of atherosclerosis and its complications are currently being evaluated in prospective randomized trials. These include the natural antioxidant vitamins, estrogen replacement therapy, tamoxifen therapy, and ACE inhibitors in patients without evidence of heart failure or left ventricular dysfunction.