Review of Acute Coronary Syndrome Diagnosis and Management

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) refers to a group of clinical conditions caused by myocardial ischemia including unstable angina, non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI), and ST-segmcnt elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). Appropriate and accurate diagnosis has life-saving implications and requires a quick but thorough evaluation of the patient's history, physical examination, electrocardiogram, radiographic studies, and cardiac biomarkers. The management of patients with suspected or confirmed ACS continues to evolve as new evidence from clinical trials is considered and as new technology becomes available to both primary care physicians and cardiologists. Low- and intermediate-risk patients have frequently been managed in a chest pain center or in the emergency department. While stress testing with or without radionuclide imaging is the most common evaluation method, a CT angiogram is sometimes substituted High-risk patients are often managed with an early invasive strategy involving left heart catheterization with a goal of prompt revascularization of at-risk, viable myocardium. With the increased availability of cardiac catheterization facilities, patients with STEMI are more commonly being managed with primary percutaneous coronary intervention, although thrombolysis is still used where such facilities are not immediately available. This article provides primary care physicians with a concise review of the pathophysiology, clinical evaluation, and management of ACS based on the best available evidence in 2008.