Medical Grand Rounds

Cardiovascular medicine update 2007: Perioperative risk, carotid angioplasty, drug-eluting stents, stronger statins

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ABSTRACTSome recent clinical trials have concluded the following:

  • Patients who need noncardiac surgery and who are at risk of major cardiac events should not undergo revascularization with the aim of achieving a better perioperative outcome. They should have an office evaluation only and be prescribed a beta-blocker, if indicated.
  • Except for unusual, high-risk cases, patients at risk of stroke due to atherosclerotic carotid artery stenosis should undergo carotid endarterectomy rather than carotid stenting. Because the technology is still developing, however, carotid stenting may still be appropriate as part of a clinical trial.
  • Although drug-eluting coronary stents reduce the risk of restenosis in the short term, they pose a small but significant risk of in-stent thrombosis. Clopidogrel (Plavix) should be prescribed for at least a year following drug-eluting stent placement, and perhaps indefinitely.
  • Patients with known coronary heart disease have better outcomes if they receive aggressive statin therapy (eg, atorvastatin [Lipitor] 80 mg/day) to lower their serum levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol to less than 70 mg/dL.


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