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Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 1995 May-Jun;37(6):415-21.

Optimal use of coronary care units: a review.

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  • 1Department of General Practice, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Patients at a low probability of acute cardiac pathology constitute a considerable proportion in many coronary care units (CCUs), such that physicians should consider more effective alternatives than CCU admission "to rule out myocardial infarction." In this article, strategies to increase the efficiency of managing patients with acute chest pain are reviewed. Algorithms aiming to improve the diagnostic accuracy of the general practitioner have been developed but require an electrocardiogram recorded at the home of the patient. Another method of triage encompasses the identification in the emergency room of the hospital of patients at a low probability of acute cardiac pathology by using predictive models that include laboratory assessments. A third strategy includes alternatives to CCUs for patients at a low risk of acute cardiac pathology, such as the creation of a simple observation unit. Finally, some investigators have sought to identify patients with good prognosis for early transfer from the CCU to lower levels of care. It is concluded that a combination of these approaches will be most efficient, and that the most appropriate choice will be determined by local circumstances.

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