Glycoprotein IIb-IIIa inhibitors in the emergency department for patients with non-ST-elevation acute coronary syndromes: principles and practices

Cedric W Lefebvre, James W Hoekstra, Marc Bonaca, Robert Giugliano
Journal of Emergency Medicine 2009, 36 (2): 162-70
Non-ST-elevation acute coronary syndrome is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Although the benefit of platelet inhibition by glycoprotein (GP) IIb-IIIa inhibitors in patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is well established, emergency physicians and cardiologists have different perspectives regarding their optimum administration, especially upstream before PCI. In this article, two emergency physicians and two cardiologists analyze data and discuss relevant issues, including the ischemic benefits vs. the risk of bleeding associated with GP IIb-IIIa inhibitors in appropriate patients, for example, those with an elevated troponin level or who undergo revascularization. The emergency physicians support early identification of high-risk non-ST-elevation acute coronary syndrome patients and early administration of GP IIb-IIIa inhibitors, which are linked to improved patient outcomes. The cardiologists emphasize risk stratification to identify patients in whom the expected reduction in ischemic complications outweighs the risk of increased bleeding with these agents. GP IIb-IIIa inhibitors should be considered in patients with unstable angina and non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (UA/NSTEMI) in whom PCI is planned, especially those with high-risk features or elevated serum troponin levels. It is reasonable to start this treatment upstream of intervention, pending further studies investigating the optimal timing of initiation of therapy in appropriate patients.

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