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THE BEST HEART SPECIALISTS IN BANGALORE Angioplasty Balloon dilatation of coronary artery stenoses was first performed in the late 1970s by Andreas Grunzig. The technique has undergone many refinements and is now widely used for the treatment of angina not responding to medical treatment. Angioplasty has not been shown to improve the prognosis of patients with stable angina. Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) has similarly not been shown to prolong life for most stable angina patients. However, both treatments are very successful in relieving the symptoms of angina. The COURAGE Trial compared optimal medical treatment of angina with angioplasty but excluded patients with symptoms refractory to medical treatment.1 Not surprisingly, this group of stable mild angina patients had a similar outcome with angioplasty and medical treatment. The trial suggests that compared with optimal medical treatment, angioplasty is a safe and slightly more effective treatment for stable angina. Patients can make an informed choice between these two treatments. The majority of patients treated with angioplasty in Australia have acute coronary syndromes and here there is good evidence of prognostic benefit with angioplasty compared with medical treatment. In many centres one-, two- and complicated three-vessel disease are managed this way. It has been shown to be as effective as coronary surgery for these patients but at the price of a higher rate of re-intervention. This is because the greatest limitation of angioplasty is the rate of restenosis in vessels that have been dilated. Restenosis
THE BEST CARDIOLOGISTS IN YELAHANKAMedical treatment of stable angina Treatment of any disease must begin with a thorough explanation of the likely diagnosis, severity and prognosis. The possible investigations required and steps to be taken if symptoms persist despite treatment should be outlined. A warning (firm, but not alarming) should be given that a prolonged episode of chest pain (more than about 15 minutes) should prompt the patient to get to a hospital without delay. This may also be the first opportunity to speak to the patient about the control of risk factors (e.g. smoking, hyperlipidaemia) that will be important for the long-term prognosis. Risk factor assessment should form part of this initial consultation and include a request for measurement of the serum lipids . a b (a) An MDCT scan of a diseased right coronary artery and the corresponding coronary angiogram (b) An MDCT reconstructed image of the heart and great vessels 140 PRACTICAL CARDIOLOGY A patient with symptoms typical of angina but who seems stable enough not to need admission to hospital should be started on treatment while awaiting investigations to confirm the diagnosis (usually stress testing). Treatment should aim to improve symptoms and, if possible, improve the prognosis (i.e. reduce the risk of unstable angina, infarction or death). Some drugs that help control the symptoms of angina may also improve the prognosis; other treatment may help the longer-term outlook by improving risk factors. Anti-platelet
POPULAR CARDIOLOGISTS IN SAHAKARANAGAR Cardiomyopathies and valvular heart disease Regardless of the status of the coronary arterial tree, both primary and secondary heart muscle disease can produce anginal pain through the imbalance of the oxygen demand and supply. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a relatively common cause of angina in the presence of normal coronary arteries. Aortic stenosis is the most common valvular cause of exertional chest tightness, which is probably due to myocardial ischaemia Exertional chest pain, which may be due to right ventricular angina, is a feature of pulmonary hypertension . Syndrome X There is some confusion regarding the ‘metabolic’ and ‘cardiac’ varieties. The former is a combination of insulin resistance, obesity, pro-inflammatory state and so on, leading to raised cardiovascular risk in the sufferers. The latter is, or should be, a form of stable effort angina that can be ascribed to coronary microvascular malfunction.23 The epicardial coronary tree is normal and the diagnosis is rather difficult to make except by exclusion. Acute coronary syndromes The terminology used to describe acute coronary syndromes (ACSs) continues to evolve as clinicians attempt to adjust to the accumulating evidence of the usefulness of modern cardiac markers and the treatment implications of different results. The most recent terminology is designed to help with treatment decisions based on the earliest clinical information from the patient. This comes from the history and the ECG. When the patient’s symptoms suggest an acute coronary syndrome, the first decisions about diagnosis and treatment are based on the ECG. If there is ST elevation present in a pattern to suggest myocardial infarction, the diagnosis is of ‘ST elevation myocardial infarction’ (STEMI). If there is no ST elevation, the initial diagnosis is of ‘non-ST elevation acute coronary syndrome’ (NSTEACS).24 This elegant phrase has replaced ‘non-ST elevation myocardial infarction’ (non- STEMI). The reason is that the diagnosis of infarction cannot be made in the absence of ST elevation until cardiac marker estimations are available. The decisions about treatment, however, need to be made immediately and are based on symptoms and ECG changes.
THE BEST CARDIOLOGISTS IN YELAHANKA nvestigations of possible or probable stable angina Electrocardiography A standard 12-lead ECG should be obtained in all patients. This is likely to be normal in almost half of patients with subsequently proven coronary artery disease. Nevertheless, an abnormal trace lends weight to the symptoms and favours further investigation. Chest X-ray Routine radiology is not essential but may reveal important co-morbidities. It should always be performed in those with clinical evidence of hypertension, pericarditis (p. 174), heart failure or valvular disease, if only as a baseline. It is similarly indicated for patients with suspected or known pulmonary or systemic disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, COPD or alcoholism. Routine blood tests All patients with suspected angina should have the following routine investigations at presentation (NHF grade A recommendation): n fasting lipids, including total cholesterol, LDLs, HDLs and triglycerides—risk factors n fasting blood sugar—risk factor n full blood count—anaemia exacerbates angina n serum creatinine—impaired renal function is a risk factor and can be worsened by some cardiac investigations. If indicated clinically, thyroid function
THE BEST CARDIOLOGISTS IN YELAHANKA Indications for coronary angiography 1 Angina not responding to medical treatment in a patient without contraindications (e.g. extreme old age—usually older than about 85 these days—or severe co-morbidities) to cardiac surgery or angioplasty. 2 Continuing chest pain whose cause is not clear despite non-invasive investigations. The procedure may well be worthwhile if it reveals normal coronary arteries and prevents a patient being treated unnecessarily with more and more anti-anginal drugs. Non-invasive investigations are more often equivocal in women, and more women than men are found to have normal coronaries at angiography. 3 Preparation of a patient older than 35 or so for some other cardiac surgery (e.g. valve replacement). The surgeon needs to know whether significant coronary disease is present so that coronary grafting can be performed at the time of valve surgery. Otherwise, patients are at risk of ischaemic problems in the post-operative period. 4 Diagnosis of cardiomyopathy (p. 267) by excluding coronary artery disease and infarction as the cause of angina or cardiac failure. These patients may benefit from revascularisation if significant coronary disease is also present (‘ischaemic cardiomyopathy’). 5 Investigation of patients following myocardial infarction. Routine transfer to a centre with angiographic facilities after successful thrombolytic treatment is a grade D recommendation. There is no proof that a patient without continuing ischaemia has an improved prognosis when angiography and revascularisation are carried out routinely after infarction. The Open Artery Trial results suggest there is no benefit compared with optimal medical treatment for patients without ischaemic symptoms in having an occluded vessel opened five days or more after an infarction. However, spontaneous or induced ischaemia (by modified stress testing or perfusion imaging) leads to a grade B recommendation for angiography and intervention. The management of post-infarct patients is definitely easier if the coronary anatomy is known, and many units adopt the policy of early (within a week) angiography of infarct patients without contraindications to revascularisation. 6 Non-ST elevation acute coronary syndromes (p. 156). 7 Acute myocardial infarction in a unit where primary angioplasty can be performed
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