Tips from Other Journals

Posthospitalization Management of High-Risk Coronary Patients



FREE PREVIEW Log in or buy this issue to read the full article. AAFP members and paid subscribers get free access to all articles. Subscribe now.


FREE PREVIEW Subscribe or buy this issue. AAFP members and paid subscribers get free access to all articles.

Am Fam Physician. 2000 Sep 1;62(5):1174.

The morbidity and mortality associated with atherosclerotic coronary artery disease are mainly due to rupture of plaque, which often results in one of the acute coronary syndromes: unstable angina, non–Q-wave myocardial infarction or Q-wave myocardial infarction. Muhlestein reviews the principles of posthospitalization management of high-risk patients.

One study revealed that 50 percent of patients who required hospital readmission within one year after an acute coronary syndrome had new disease progression or plaque destabilization. Three percent had subacute vessel closure, and 47 percent had target-lesion restenosis. Instability of plaque is probably directly related to the thickness of the fibrous caps, with rupture of thick caps less likely than rupture of thin caps. Interventions to prevent plaque instability include dietary modification, exercise and drug therapy (see the accompanying table).

Discharge Medication Goals

All inpatients with CAD discharged on HMG-CoA (statin) (titrated to LDL < 100 as outpatient)

All inpatients with CAD discharged on aspirin

All inpatients post-MI discharged on beta blocker

All inpatients with CAD, diabetes mellitus or LV systolic dysfunction (EF < 40 percent) discharged on ACE inhibitor (ARB, if ACE-intolerant)


CAD = coronary artery disease; HMG-CoA = 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A; LDL = low-density lipoprotein; MI = myocardial infarction; LV = left ventricular; EF = ejection fraction; ACE = angiotensin-converting enzyme; ARB = angiotensin receptor blocker.

Reprinted with permission from Muhlestein JB. Post-hospitalization management of high-risk coronary patients. Am J Cardiol 2000;85:19B.

Discharge Medication Goals

View Table

Discharge Medication Goals

All inpatients with CAD discharged on HMG-CoA (statin) (titrated to LDL < 100 as outpatient)

All inpatients with CAD discharged on aspirin

All inpatients post-MI discharged on beta blocker

All inpatients with CAD, diabetes mellitus or LV systolic dysfunction (EF < 40 percent) discharged on ACE inhibitor (ARB, if ACE-intolerant)


CAD = coronary artery disease; HMG-CoA = 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A; LDL = low-density lipoprotein; MI = myocardial infarction; LV = left ventricular; EF = ejection fraction; ACE = angiotensin-converting enzyme; ARB = angiotensin receptor blocker.

Reprinted with permission from Muhlestein JB. Post-hospitalization management of high-risk coronary patients. Am J Cardiol 2000;85:19B.

The benefits of dietary measures and exercise in stabilizing the plaques have not been assessed, and studies have not yet documented that either of these interventions by themselves actually saves lives. Four drug therapies have been demonstrated to save lives: aspirin, beta blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors (statins).

Placebo-controlled trials have shown that aspirin, in patients who have sustained a myocardial infarction or have unstable or stable angina, reduces mortality by 30 to 50 percent. In addition to decreased platelet aggregation, beta blockers may also have specific intrinsic antiarrhythmic effects and may decrease the hemodynamic responsiveness of blood vessels, thereby helping to reduce the risk of plaque rupture. The reduction in mortality imparted by beta blockers is not altered by the ejection fraction. The most significant benefits have been noted to occur in patients with ejection fractions less than 50 percent. ACE inhibitors reduce afterload and delay progression of congestive heart failure and death. Studies have also demonstrated that ACE inhibitors reduce the risk of myocardial infarction and death in patients with diabetes or coronary artery disease. Lipid-lowering agents, specifically HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, have been demonstrated to reduce mortality in persons with known coronary artery disease.

The author concludes that secondary prevention by means of appropriate drug therapy is required in every patient with a diagnosis of coronary artery disease who presents to the hospital with an acute coronary syndrome.

Muhlestein JB. Posthospitalization management of high-risk coronary patients. Am J Cardiol. March 9, 2000;85:13B–20B.



Copyright © 2000 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact afpserv@aafp.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions


Article Tools

  • Print page
  • Share this page
  • AFP CME Quiz

Information From Industry

Navigate this Article