Upcoming ESC revascularization guidelines cement heart team’s role



PARIS – A joint European Society of Cardiology and European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery task force that will publish revised revascularization guidelines in late August gave a sneak peak of some important elements of the revision, including renewed endorsement of and a refinement to the heart team concept that was first introduced in the prior, 2010 version of the guidelines.

"One of the most important aspects of the 2010 guidelines was the introduction of the heart team (Eur. Heart J. 2010;31:2501-55) said Dr. Philippe H. Kolh. "In 2010, the heart team concept was still controversial, but I think now it is well accepted. We are further supporting and emphasizing the importance of the heart team," he said of the revised guidelines that will be released in August, during a session that previewed selected parts of the new guidelines at the annual congress of the European Association of Percutaneous Cardiovascular Interventions, an organization that also collaborated on the guidelines.

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Dr. Spencer B. King, III and Dr. Franz-Josef Neumann

The revision also calls on each institution where operators perform revascularization to establish local protocols to guide the choice in routine cases between percutaneous coronary interventions (PCIs) or coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), said Dr. Kolh, a cardiac surgeon at University Hospital in Liège, Belgium, and cochairman of the guideline-writing panel.

"The 2010 guidelines produced a misconception that every patient needs to be discussed by a heart team; the 2014 revision makes it clear that the heart team should develop institutional protocols for appropriate revascularization strategies for different types of patients. So if a patient has single-vessel disease, you can go ahead and do PCI and not wait for a heart-team decision," said Dr. Ulf Landmesser, professor and head of the acute cardiology clinic at University Hospital, Zurich, and a member of the 2014 panel. "Hopefully, it will now be clear that the heart team only needs to discuss complex patients that involve difficult decisions, and that institutional protocols can handle routine cases," Dr. Landmesser said.

The revision comes at a time when "the competition today is not so much between CABG and PCI; the more burning question is who should have revascularization, and how do patients get to the cath lab," noted Dr. Spencer B. King III, an interventional cardiologist at St. Joseph’s Medical Group in Atlanta who was invited to the session to comment on the new revision.

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Dr. Ulf Landmesser and Dr. Stephan Windecker

Results from a new meta-analysis highlight the critical role of revascularization relative to medical therapy alone in improving outcomes of patients with coronary artery disease. This finding is especially relevant in 2014, because it marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of revascularization with the first successful CABG performed, observed Dr. Stephan Windecker, professor and chief of cardiology at University Hospital in Bern, Switzerland, and cochairman of the guidelines-writing panel.

He presented an analysis of results from 100 randomized, controlled trials that compared some form of revascularization against medical therapy in 93,553 randomized patients followed for more than 260,000 patient-years. The results showed that CABG cut the rate of all-cause mortality by 20%, compared with medical therapy, a statistically significant difference, and that treatment with new-generation drug-eluting stents produced a significant reduction of more than 25%, according to an as-yet unpublished report by members of the European Myocardial Revascularization Collaborative. Dr. Windecker also noted that all the recommendations in the new revision were approved with 100% consensus by the panel, which included cardiac surgeons, interventional cardiologists, and noninterventional cardiologists in equal numbers.

The session highlighted several other notable new elements in the revised guidelines, although Dr. Windecker stressed several times during the session that everything presented remained pending until the final version is released later this summer. The changes include:

• An "upgrade" of the recommendation for PCI use in patients with left main disease and a SYNTAX score of 23-32 to a IIa, "should be considered" class recommendation, boosted from class III "not recommended" status in 2010. Five-year outcomes from the SYNTAX trial showed "no difference in outcomes between PCI and CABG, a major reason to upgrade the recommendation for PCI," said Dr. Landmesser (Lancet 2013;381:629-38). "The guidelines put a lot of weight on SYNTAX score."

• When performing PCI in patients with non–ST-elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI), bivalirudin (Angiomax) is recommended exclusively as the anticoagulant to use during and immediately following PCI – with unfractionated heparin recommended only for patients who cannot receive bivalirudin – based on bivalirudin’s proven reduced risk for causing major bleeds, said Dr. Franz-Josef Neumann, professor and director of the University Heart Center in Bad Krozingen, Germany.


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