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Anesth Analg. 2011 Apr;112(4):777-99. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0b013e31820e7e4f. Epub 2011 Mar 8.

Emergency cardiac surgery in patients with acute coronary syndromes: a review of the evidence and perioperative implications of medical and mechanical therapeutics.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.


Patients with acute coronary syndromes who require emergency cardiac surgery present complex management challenges. The early administration of antiplatelet and antithrombotic drugs has improved overall survival for patients with acute myocardial infarction, but to achieve maximal benefit, these drugs are given before coronary anatomy is known and before the decision to perform percutaneous coronary interventions or surgical revascularization has been made. A major bleeding event secondary to these drugs is associated with a high rate of death in medically treated patients with acute coronary syndrome possibly because of subsequent withholding of antiplatelet and antithrombotic therapies that otherwise reduce the rate of death, stroke, or recurrent myocardial infarction. Whether the added risk of bleeding and blood transfusion in cardiac surgical patients receiving such potent antiplatelet or antithrombotic therapy before surgery specifically for acute coronary syndromes affects long-term mortality has not been clearly established. For patients who do proceed to surgery, strategies to minimize bleeding include stopping the anticoagulation therapy and considering platelet and/or coagulation factor transfusion and possibly recombinant-activated factor VIIa administration for refractory bleeding. Mechanical hemodynamic support has emerged as an important option for patients with acute coronary syndromes in cardiogenic shock. For these patients, perioperative considerations include maintaining appropriate anticoagulation, ensuring suitable device flow, and periodically verifying correct device placement. Data supporting the use of these devices are derived from small trials that did not address long-term postoperative outcomes. Future directions of research will seek to optimize the balance between reducing myocardial ischemic risk with antiplatelet and antithrombotics versus the higher rate perioperative bleeding by better risk stratifying surgical candidates and by assessing the effectiveness of newer reversible drugs. The effects of mechanical hemodynamic support on long-term patient outcomes need more stringent analysis.

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