Preoperative Cardiac Risk Assessment*

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Preoperative cardiac evaluation is aimed at evaluating the patient's current medical status, making recommendations concerning the risk of cardiac problems in the perioperative period, and providing a clinical risk profile that the patient, primary physician, consultants, anesthesiologist, and surgeon can use in making treatment decisions.Patients can be stratified on clinical grounds into low-, medium-, and high-risk categories. Use of these categories, along with consideration of the type and urgency of noncardiac surgery, allows for a reasonable approach to preoperative testing. In general, indications for cardiac testing and treatment are similar to the nonoperative setting, but their choice and timing is dependent on factors specific to the patient, the type of surgery, and the clinical situation. Use of invasive and noninvasive testing should be limited to situations in which the results of the tests will clearly affect patient management. Further research is necessary to define the most appropriate role of such testing, both in terms of efficacy and of cost-effectiveness. Cardiac intervention is rarely necessary to lower the risk of surgery, but noncardiac surgery often represents the first opportunity for a patient to receive an appropriate assessment of short- and long-term cardiac risk, and this should be taken into consideration in planning perioperative evaluation. (CHEST 1999; 115:51S-57S)

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