Medical, percutaneous interventional, and surgical treatments for the management of coronary heart disease have progressed markedly during the past decade. There is evidence to suggest that for patients with stable coronary heart disease optimal medical therapy is equal in effectiveness for lowering the risk of major cardiovascular events, such as cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, and stroke, as are revascularization procedures, such as coronary artery bypass grafting or percutaneous coronary intervention. The landmark Surgical Treatment for Ischemic Heart Failure (STICH) trial found no significant difference between medical therapy alone and medical therapy plus coronary artery bypass grafting with respect to the primary end point of death from any cause (all-cause mortality). However, secondary outcomes showed fewer deaths from cardiovascular causes in the surgical group versus the medical group. Medical therapy has improved over time, as have surgical techniques including myocardial preservation, and both approaches have their place, especially since chest pain relief and quality of life may benefit more in some cases by revascularization. Certainly, coronary artery bypass grafting has general acceptance for three-vessel coronary heart disease, and percutaneous coronary artery intervention is the standard of care for the involved artery in acute ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction when the intervention can be accomplished rapidly. Medical management includes lifestyle changes that benefit coronary heart disease, drug therapy to improve prognosis, and drug therapy to improve symptoms. The key to clinical management is the selection of the procedure and/or medical management strategy that is in the best interest of the individual cardiovascular patient. In addition, discussing with patients their options and considering what best fits their wishes is especially critical when there is no clear-cut best strategy. Continued collaboration between cardiologists concentrating on medical approaches with interventionists and cardiac surgeons (heart team approach) is essential for optimal management for each individual patient.
Keywords: Cardiovascular risk, coronary artery surgery, coronary heart disease, lifestyle changes, lipoproteins, medical management, prevention, prognosis, statins, symptom relief
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