OBJECTIVE: To review literature relating to significant changes in drug therapy recommendations in the 1999 American College of Cardiology (ACC)/American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for treating patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI). DATA SOURCES: 1999 ACC/AHA AMI guidelines, English-language clinical trials, reviews, and editorials researching the role of drug therapy and primary angioplasty for AMI that were referenced in the guidelines were included. Additional data published in 2000 or unpublished were also included if relevant to interpretation of the guidelines. STUDY SELECTION: The articles selected influence AMI treatment recommendations. DATA SYNTHESIS: Many clinicians and health systems use the ACC/AHA AMI guidelines to develop treatment plans for AMI patients. This review highlights important changes in AMI drug therapy recommendations by reviewing the results of recent clinical trials. Insights into evolving drug therapy strategies that may impact future guideline development are also described. CONCLUSIONS: Several changes in drug therapy recommendations were included in the 1999 AMI ACC/AHA guidelines. There is emphasis on administering fibrin-specific thrombolytics secondary to enhanced efficacy. Selection between fibrin-specific agents is unclear at this time. Low response rates to thrombolytics have been noted in the elderly, women, patients with heart failure, and those showing left bundle-branch block on the electrocardiogram. These patient groups should be targeted for improved utilization programs. The use of glycoprotein (GP) IIb/IIIa receptor inhibitors in non-ST-segment elevation MI was emphasized. Small trials combining reduced doses of thrombolytics with GP IIb/IIIa receptor inhibitors have shown promise by increasing reperfusion rates without increasing bleeding risk, but firm conclusions cannot be made until the results of larger trials are known. Primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) trials suggest lower mortality rates for primary PCI when compared with thrombolysis alone. However, primary PCI, including coronary angioplasty, is only available at approximately 13% of US hospitals, making thrombolysis the preferred strategy for most patients. Clopidogrel has supplanted ticlopidine as the recommended antiplatelet agent for patients with aspirin allergy or intolerance following reports of a better safety profile. The recommended dose of unfractionated heparin is lower than previously recommended, necessitating a separate nomogram for patients with acute coronary syndromes. Routine use of warfarin, either alone or in combination with aspirin, is not supported by clinical trials; however, warfarin remains a choice for antithrombotic therapy in patients intolerant to aspirin. β-Adrenergic receptor blockers continue to be recommended, and emphasis is placed on improving rates of early administration (during hospitalization), even in patients with moderate left ventricular dysfunction. New recommendations for drug treatment of post-AMI patients with low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and/or elevated triglycerides are included, with either niacin or gemfibrozil recommended as an option. Supplementary antioxidants are not recommended for either primary or secondary prevention of AMI, with new data demonstrating lack of efficacy for vitamin E in primary prevention. Estrogen replacement therapy or hormonal replacement therapy should not be initiated solely for prevention of cardiovascular disease, but can be continued in cardiovascular patients already taking long-term therapy for other reasons. Bupropion has been added as a new treatment option for smoking cessation. As drug therapy continues to evolve in treating AMI, more frequent updates of therapy guidelines will be necessary.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pharmacology (medical)