, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 260-271

The role of pharmacotherapy and catheter-based intervention in the management of patients with non-st-segment elevation acute coronary syndromes

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Abstract

The American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines has published recommendations regarding diagnosis and treatment of patients with non-ST-segment elevation (NSTE) acute coronary syndromes (ACS). The acute ischemia pathway presented in these guidelines encompasses both an early invasive strategy and an early conservative strategy. The recognition of the role of platelet biology in ACS led to the development of glycoprotein (GP) IIb/IIIa receptor antagonists for the management of patients with NSTE ACS. Based on studies of risk stratification models for NSTE ACS, as well as a better understanding of the underlying biology of serum markers of myocardial necrosis, refinements have been made in identifying which patients benefit most from intravenous platelet receptor antagonism and the use of early invasive strategies. The available data suggest that for the NSTE ACS patient with intermediate- to high-risk features, the early initiation of intravenous platelet receptor antagonism with a small molecule GP IIb/IIIa receptor blocker, followed by timely cardiac catheterization with attempts at revascularization is the superior management strategy. In the majority of cases where such patients present to a facility without cardiac catheterization capability, stabilization with antiplatelet, antithrombotic, and antiischemic therapies should be undertaken prior to timely tertiary percutaneous coronary intervention referral.