Innovations in management of cardiac disease: drugs, treatment strategies and technology

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Within the last generation, the management of patients with heart disease has been transformed by advances in drug treatments, interventions and diagnostic technologies. The management of arterial hypertension saw beta-blockers demoted from first- to third-line treatment. Recent studies suggest that the goal of treatment may have to change to lower systolic blood pressures to prevent long-term organ damage. Today less than 15% of coronary revascularizations are surgical and more than 85% are done by interventional cardiologists inserting coronary stents. Thus, managing patients on dual antiplatelet therapy has become an important issue. With new generations of coronary stents, recommendations are changing fast. In the past, decisions concerning non-cardiac surgery after acute myocardial infarction were based on the delay between infarction and non-cardiac surgery. Today, the main concern is the patient’s status in respect of dual antiplatelet therapy after primary percutaneous intervention. There have been advances in the management of heart failure but new drugs (ivabradine, sacubitril/valsartan) and cardiac resynchronization are recommended only in patients with an ejection fraction below 35% on optimal medication. Heart failure remains a major perioperative risk factor. Prospective studies have shown that troponin elevations represent myocardial injury (not necessarily myocardial infarction), are mostly silent and are associated with increased 30-day mortality. Monitoring (troponin assays) for myocardial injury in non-cardiac surgery (MINS) seems increasingly justified. The treatment of MINS needs further research. Technological advances, such as intelligent, portable monitors benefit not only patients with cardiac disease but all patients who have undergone major surgery and are on the wards postoperatively.

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