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The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 58:M927-M933 (2003)
© 2003 The Gerontological Society of America


Review Article: Treatment of Unstable Angina Pectoris/Non-ST-Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction in Elderly Patients

Wilbert S. Aronow

Divisions of Cardiology and Geriatrics, Department of Medicine, New York Medical College, Valhalla.

Elderly patients with unstable angina pectoris/non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction should be hospitalized. Precipitating factors should be identified and corrected. Electrocardiogram monitoring is important. Aspirin should be given as soon as possible and continued indefinitely. Clopidogrel should given for up to 9 months in patients in whom an early noninterventional approach is planned or in whom a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is planned. Clopidogrel should be withheld for 5–7 days in patients in whom elective coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABGS) is planned. A platelet glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitor should also be given in addition to aspirin, clopidogrel, and heparin in patients in whom cardiac catheterization and PCI are planned. Patients whose symptoms are not fully relieved with three 0.4-mg sublingual nitroglycerin tablets or spray taken 5 minutes apart and the initiation of an intravenous beta blocker should be treated with continuous intravenous nitroglycerin. Beta blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors should be given and continued indefinitely. The benefit of long-acting nondihydropyridine calcium channel blockers is limited to symptom control. Intra-aortic balloon pump counterpulsation should be used for severe ischemia that is continuing or occurs frequently despite intensive medical therapy or for hemodynamic instability. Statins should be used if the serum low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is >=100 mg/dl and continued indefinitely. Enoxaparin is preferable to intravenous unfractionated heparin in the absence of renal failure and unless CABGS is planned within 24 hours. Thrombolysis is not beneficial. High-risk patients should have an early invasive strategy with CABGS or PCI performed depending on the coronary artery anatomy, left ventricular function, presence or absence of diabetes, and findings on noninvasive testing. Following hospital discharge, patients should have intensive risk factor modification with cessation of smoking, maintenance of blood pressure below 135/85 mmHg, indefinite use of statins if needed to maintain the serum LDL cholesterol <100 mg/dl, intensive control of diabetes, maintenance of optimal weight, and daily exercise. Patients should be treated indefinitely with aspirin, beta blockers, and ACE inhibitors and with clopidogrel for up to 9 months. Nitrates should be given for ischemic symptoms. Hormonal therapy should not be given to postmenopausal women.

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