Background. Asymptomatic myocardial ischemia is commonly observed in patients with coronary artery disease. Numerous studies have shown that patients with asymptomatic ischemia are at higher risk for adverse outcome than those without ischemia. Several recent studies have investigated the therapeutic options available in the management of patients with asymptomatic myocardial ischemia. Methods. Recently published randomized controlled trials investigating the treatment of asymptomatic myocardial ischemia were reviewed. Results. The controlled trials suggest that (1) asymptomatic ischemia can be suppressed to various degrees using pharmacologic therapy or revascularization, (2) β-blockers are in general superior to calcium channel blockers or nitrates in relieving asymptomatic ischemia, and (3) revascularization is superior to pharmacologic therapy. Conclusions. A growing body of evidence suggests that in patients with coronary artery disease, treatment of asymptomatic ischemia may result in improved outcome. However, because of significant limitations in the published studies, additional studies with large sample sizes and broader inclusion criteria are needed.
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