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A risk factor is a demographic characteristic associated with an increased risk of ischaemic heart disease when other variables have been controlled. The presence of a risk factor in an individual increases his or her relative risk of a coronary event (angina, infarction or death). The absolute risk of a coronary event depends on the individual’s total number of risk factors and theirseverity (total risk). Important coronary risk factors are shown in Table 1.1. Risk assessment charts have been developed to estimate a patient’s cardiac risk over a number of years using easily identified risk factors. There are charts for different populations. The charts can be used to predict cardiovascular events or mortality (as in the NHF chart in Fig 1.1 on p. 4) or cardiac risk (systematic coronary risk evaluation system or SCORE charts). These charts can be very helpful in deciding when intervention to reduce risk is warranted; for example, when anti-hypertensive treatment should be commenced for a patient with mild blood pressure elevation. Risk factor reduction involves assessing the presence, severity and importance of risk factors for a
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
Average reductions in coronary events (benefits are greatest in patients with highest total risk) 1 Smoking cessation: 50% reduction in coronary events6 2 Low-dose aspirin in high-risk patients: 25% reduction in coronary events7 3 20% reduction in total cholesterol with statin treatment: 30% reduction in coronary events8 4 Treatment with pravastatin after acute coronary events: 22% reduction in mortality9 5 5–6 mmHg reduction in blood pressure: 15% reduction in coronary events (40% risk reduction for stroke)10 6 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day: 18% reduction in coronary events11 CARDIAC SPEACIALIST IN HEBBALA
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
IHEART SPECIALISTS IN HEBBALA ndications 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 . 7 Acute myocardial infarction in a unit where primary angioplasty can be performed . Risks of cardiac catheterisation Cardiac catheterisation is an invasive procedure and patients must be aware of
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