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Management of stable angina - Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) 96


Abstract and Figures

In 2005-6 I was surgical senior editor of the SIGN Guidelines. This guideline was superseded by guideline 151. The recorded prevalence of angina varies greatly across UK studies. The Scottish Health Survey (2003) reports the prevalence of angina, determined by the Rose Angin questionnaire to be 5.1% and 6.7% in males aged 55-64 and 65-74 respectively. For the same age groups in women the equivalent rates were 4% and 6.8%. This compares with general practitioner (GP) record data in the British Regional Heart Study from across the UK of 9.2% and 16.2% for men in the same age groups. The average GP will see, on average, four new cases of angina each year. Practice team information submitted by Scottish general practices to Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland allows the calculation of an annual prevalence rate for Scotland (the proportion of the population who have consulted their general practice because of a definite diagnosis of angina based on ISD’s standard morbidity grouping). In the year ending March 2005 the annual prevalence rate is given as 8.3 for men and 7.6 for women per 1,000 population. This equates to an estimated number of patients seen in Scotland in that year for angina of 42,600 with 68,200 patient contacts. A diagnosis of angina can have a significant impact on the patient’s level of functioning. In one survey, angina patients scored their general health as twice as poor as those who had had a stroke. In another survey, patients had a low level of factual knowledge about their illness and poor medication adherence. A Tayside study showed that in patients with angina, symptoms are often poorly controlled, there is a high level of anxiety and depression, scope for lifestyle change and an ongoing need for frequent medical contact.
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Management of stable angina
A national clinical guideline
1 Introduction 1
2 Diagnosis and assessment 3
3 Pharmacological management 7
4 Interventional cardiology and cardiac surgery 12
5 Stable angina and non-cardiac surgery 19
6 Psychological and cognitive issues 28
7 Patient issues and follow up 34
8 Sources of further information and support for
patients and carers 37
9 Implementation and audit 39
10 Development of the guideline 41
Abbreviations 45
References 47
February 2007
Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network
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1++ High quality meta-analyses, systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials
(RCTs), or RCTs with a very low risk of bias
1+ Well conducted meta-analyses, systematic reviews of RCTs, or RCTs with a low
risk of bias
1 - Meta-analyses, systematic reviews of RCTs, or RCTs with a high risk of bias
2++ High quality systematic reviews of case control or cohort studies
High quality case control or cohort studies with a very low risk of confounding or
bias and a high probability that the relationship is causal
2+ Well conducted case control or cohort studies with a low risk of confounding or
bias and a moderate probability that the relationship is causal
2 - Case control or cohort studies with a high risk of confounding or bias
 andasignicantriskthattherelationshipisnotcausal
3 Non-analytic studies, eg case reports, case series
4 Expert opinion
Note: The grade of recommendation relates to the strength of the evidence on which the
recommendation is based. It does not reect the clinical importance of the recommendation.
A At least one meta-analysis, systematic review of RCTs, or RCT rated as 1++
and directly applicable to the target population; or
A body of evidence consisting principally of studies rated as 1+, directly applicable
to the target population, and demonstrating overall consistency of results
B A body of evidence including studies rated as 2++, directly applicable to the target
population, and demonstrating overall consistency of results; or
Extrapolated evidence from studies rated as 1++ or 1+
C A body of evidence including studies rated as 2+, directly applicable to the target
population and demonstrating overall consistency of results; or
Extrapolated evidence from studies rated as 2++
D Evidence level 3 or 4; or
Extrapolated evidence from studies rated as 2+
Recommended best practice based on the clinical experience of the guideline
development group
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Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network
Management of stable angina
A national clinical guideline
February 2007
© Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network
ISBN 1 899893 89 X
First published 2007
SIGN consents to the photocopying of this guideline for the
purpose of implementation in NHSScotland
Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network
28 Thistle Street, Edinburgh EH2 1EN
1 Introduction
The recorded prevalence of angina varies greatly across UK studies.1 The Scottish Health Survey (2003)
reports the prevalence of angina, determined by the Rose Angina Questionnaire to be 5.1%
and 6.7% in males aged 55-64 and 65-74 respectively.2 For the same age groups in women the
equivalent rates were 4% and 6.8%. This compares with general practitioner (GP) record data
in the British Regional Heart Study from across the UK of 9.2% and 16.2% for men in the same
age groups.3 The average GP will see, on average, four new cases of angina each year.4
Practice team information submitted by Scottish general practices to Information Services
Division (ISD) Scotland allows the calculation of an annual prevalence rate for Scotland (the
proportion of the population who have consulted their general practice because of a denite
diagnosis of angina based on ISD’s standard morbidity grouping). In the year ending March 2005
the annual prevalence rate is given as 8.3 for men and 7.6 for women per 1,000 population.
This equates to an estimated number of patients seen in Scotland in that year for angina of
42,600 with 68,200 patient contacts.5
A diagnosis of angina can have a signicant impact on the patient’s level of functioning. In one
survey, angina patients scored their general health as twice as poor as those who had had a
stroke.6 In another survey, patients had a low level of factual knowledge about their illness and
poor medication adherence.7 A Tayside study showed that in patients with angina, symptoms
are often poorly controlled, there is a high level of anxiety and depression, scope for lifestyle
change and an ongoing need for frequent medical contact.8
In recent years there has been a decline in the rate of major coronary events and death from
coronary heart disease (CHD).9 However, data from the British Regional Heart Study based on
GP records which included Scotland has shown an annual increase of 2.6% in rst diagnosed
angina in the 20 years of follow up to the year 2000 in males aged 40-59 at entry.3 This increase
reects the diagnosis as it occurred in clinical practice without objective criteria to conrm
the presence of underlying CHD. The rise in the rate of new angina diagnoses eliminates any
overall fall in the diagnosis of CHD.
General practitioners are being advised to ensure that patients presenting with symptoms
consistent with angina are rapidly assessed. The development of rapid access chest pain clinics
has been encouraged to allow this to happen.10 Evidence based diagnostic practice and the
prioritisation of investigation in patients with symptoms consistent with angina are required.
Angina is used to describe a clinical syndrome of chest pain or pressure precipitated by activities
such as exercise or emotional stress which increase myocardial oxygen demand. Although
classical stable angina can be predictable in onset, reproducible and relieved by rest or glyceryl
trinitrate, other factors and circumstances can inuence its development. Angina can be caused
by various cardiovascular conditions but this guideline is restricted to the clinical situation
where reduced myocardial perfusion is due to arterial narrowing resulting from underlying
atherosclerotic coronary heart disease. A small minority of patients have objective evidence
of myocardial ischaemia in the absence of any obvious structural abnormality of the coronary
Stable angina is usually assessed in the outpatient setting. It is important when taking a clinical
history to identify and manage appropriately those patients whose symptoms may be due to
the more severe changes of plaque erosion and rupture occurring as part of the spectrum of
acute coronary syndrome (see SIGN guideline 93 on acute coronary syndromes).11
In addition to examining the most appropriate models of care and referral this guideline
examines the investigations necessary to conrm the presence of CHD. The optimum medical
treatment to relieve symptoms is considered as well as the optimum management of those
patients with angina requiring non-cardiac surgery. In the 10 years up to 2004 the number
of coronary artery bypass grafts carried out each year in Scotland has increased only slightly
(2,452 to 2,637). In the same period percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) have increased
fourfold (1,028 to 4,133) with changing trends in stent implantation.12 The relative benets of
different interventions and the provision of patient education are examined as well as whether
psychological interventions can help improve symptoms and quality of life.
A patient version of this guideline is available from the SIGN website:
NHS QIS processes multiple technology appraisals (MTAs) for NHSScotland that have been
produced by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in England and
The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) provides advice to NHS Boards and their Area Drug
and Therapeutics Committees about the status of all newly licensed medicines and any major
new indications for established products.
SMC advice and NHS QIS validated NICE MTAs relevant to this guideline are summarised in
the section on implementation.
This guideline is not intended to be construed or to serve as a standard of care. Standards
of care are determined on the basis of all clinical data available for an individual case and
are subject to change as scientic knowledge and technology advance and patterns of care
evolve. Adherence to guideline recommendations will not ensure a successful outcome in
every case, nor should they be construed as including all proper methods of care or excluding
other acceptable methods of care aimed at the same results. The ultimate judgement must be
made by the appropriate healthcare professional(s) responsible for clinical decisions regarding
a particular clinical procedure or treatment plan. This judgement should only be arrived at
following discussion of the options with the patient, covering the diagnostic and treatment
choices available. It is advised, however, that signicant departures from the national guideline
or any local guidelines derived from it should be fully documented in the patient’s case notes
at the time the relevant decision is taken.
This guideline was issued in 2007 and will be considered for review in three years. Any updates
to the guideline in the interim period will be noted on the SIGN website:
2 Diagnosis and assessment
Angina is a symptom that suggests that an individual may have underlying CHD. Investigation
to conrm the severity and extent of underlying CHD may also allow management strategies to
be developed and optimise cardiovascular risk reduction.13 A signicant proportion of patients
with chest pain may not have angina and assessment should also try to identify alternative
diagnoses at an early stage.
Angina often varies in severity and patients who have unstable angina (acute coronary syndrome)
are outside the remit of this guideline, as these patients usually require more urgent and
immediate management (see SIGN guideline 93 on acute coronary syndromes).11
Patients with stable angina are usually managed in the primary care setting, but may present in
a number of healthcare settings. An initial diagnosis of angina can be made within primary care
but this should be supported by further assessment and risk stratication, which will normally
require specialist input.
Patients with stable angina should have the diagnosis made, where possible, following a carefully
obtained clinical assessment. Clinical history is the key component in the evaluation of the
patient with angina; often the diagnosis can be made on the basis of clinical history alone. While
a number of scoring systems are available to assess patients with chest pain and stable angina,
an accurate clinical assessment is of key importance. There are several typical characteristics
of stable angina which should increase the likelihood of underlying CHD. These include:14
type of discomfort – often described as tight, dull or heavy
location – often retrosternal or left side of chest and can radiate to left arm, neck, jaw and
relation to exertion – angina is often brought on with exertion or emotional stress and eased
with rest
duration – typically the symptoms last up to several minutes after exertion or emotional
stress has stopped
other factors – angina may be precipitated by cold weather or following a meal.
The predominant features described by some patients are discomfort and heaviness or
breathlessness, rather than pain. Chest discomfort, irrespective of its site, is more likely to be
angina when precipitated by exertion and relieved by rest. It is also characteristically relieved
by glyceryl trinitrate. Not all patients will present with typical characteristics and the clinician
should be aware of other symptoms such as breathlessness and burping which may be the
initial presenting symptom.
Angina can be graded by severity on the Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS) class scale of
I-IV15 (see Table 1).
Table 1: Canadian Cardiovascular Society Angina Classication
Class Description
Class I Ordinary activity such as walking or climbing stairs does not precipitate angina
Class II Angina precipitated by emotion, cold weather or meals and by walking up
Class III Marked limitations of ordinary physical activity
Class IV Inability to carry out any physical activity without discomfort – anginal symptoms
may be present at rest.
The likelihood of a diagnosis of angina increases with the number of cardiovascular risk factors
in individual patients. These include:
family history of CHD (rst degree relative – male <55 years/female <65 years)
raised cholesterol and other lipids.
These risk factors are best initially addressed in the primary care setting where lifestyle advice
can be provided and support offered, where necessary. If symptoms persist, more objective
evaluation of symptoms may be necessary to establish the severity of any underlying CHD. In
addition to assessment of conventional risk factors, (see SIGN guideline 97 on risk estimation
and the prevention of cardiovascular disease)73 patients should have the following evaluated:
body mass index (BMI) or waist circumference
murmur evaluation
haemoglobin level
fasting blood glucose
thyroid function
depression and social isolation
physical activity.
A number of scoring systems have been proposed to assess the severity and prognostic impact
of angina.16,17 While these scoring systems may be accurate in the patient groups included in
the cohorts studied, their use in routine clinical practice cannot be recommended, but they
may have a role in inuencing the clinical decision making process.
When a general practitioner identies a patient with stable angina, further assessment at a
cardiology outpatient clinic is desirable.
Patients with suspected angina should have a detailed initial clinical assessment which
includes history, examination and an assessment of blood pressure, haemoglobin, thyroid
function, cholesterol and glucose levels.
Those patients who should be considered for early referral to secondary care include
those with new onset angina and those with established coronary heart disease with an
increase in symptoms.
Angina pain is not usually sharp or stabbing in nature. It is not usually inuenced by respiration
or eased with antacids and simple analgesia.
The initial clinical assessment is important as it may reduce anxiety and distress resulting in
unnecessary hospital admissions and consultations.18 Low risk patients, such as young women
with atypical symptoms, should be assessed in primary care where possible. Much of this
assessment includes explaining symptoms, discussing concerns and providing reassurance
where necessary. A diagnosis of non-cardiac chest pain should be given early and condently
as correct management may reduce morbidity.19
A rehabilitation programme based on cognitive behaviour principles for patients with chest
pain but normal coronary arteries, found that those who continued to attribute symptoms to
cardiac causes had worse outcomes.20
If the diagnosis is uncertain, clinicians should not give the impression that the patient has
angina. This may lead the patient to have false beliefs, which may be difcult to change
even after further investigations have ruled this out.
A baseline 12 lead electrocardiogram (ECG) should be performed in every patient with suspected
angina.21 A normal 12 lead ECG does not exclude a diagnosis of coronary heart disease.22 An
abnormal resting ECG increases the probability that a patient has CHD, but gives no indication
as to the severity of any associated obstructive coronary heart disease.23 A 12 lead ECG can also
highlight the presence of atrial brillation or left ventricular hypertrophy. The interpretation of
resting or exercise ECGs is operator-dependent.24
Exercise tolerance testing
The majority of patients with suspected angina will be referred for exercise tolerance testing
(ETT), which is also known as exercise ECG or stress ECG. Exercise is usually performed by
treadmill testing or on a static bicycle and may be unsuitable for patients who have poor mobility,
peripheral arterial disease or limiting respiratory or musculoskeletal conditions.
The sensitivity and specicity of ETT in establishing the diagnosis of CHD is dependent on
the cohort of patients studied. Sensitivity is higher in patients with triple vessel disease and
lower in patients with single vessel disease.25 The true diagnostic value of exercise ECG lies
in its relatively high sensitivity, but it is only moderately specic for the diagnosis of CHD in
A normal exercise test may reassure many patients but it does not exclude a diagnosis of CHD.
A highly abnormal ETT result is an indication for urgent further investigation.
Myocardial perfusion scintigraphy
Myocardial perfusion scintigraphy (MPS) with exercise or pharmacologic stress is an accurate
and non-invasive investigation which reliably predicts the presence of CHD.27 Myocardial
perfusion scintigraphy may be the appropriate initial diagnostic test in patients with pre-existing
ECG abnormalities (eg left bundle branch block) or in those unable to adequately exercise and
as part of the diagnostic strategy for suspected CHD in people with lower likelihood of CHD.28
It is also valuable in females who may have a low risk of underlying CHD but a high risk of
a falsely positive ETT and in patients where identication of regional ischaemia would be of
value (eg prior to PCI). Myocardial perfusion scintigraphy provides valuable independent and
incremental prognostic information to that provided by ETT and this enables risk stratication
of patients which informs treatment decisions.29
C Patients with suspected angina should usually be investigated by a baseline
electrocardiogram and an exercise tolerance test.
B Patients unable to undergo exercise tolerance testing or who have pre-existing
electrocardiogram abnormalities should be considered for myocardial perfusion
Coronary angiography
Coronary angiography is the traditional benchmark investigation for establishing the nature,
anatomy and severity of CHD. It is an invasive investigation and carries a mortality risk of
around 0.1% for elective procedures.30 It requires referral to a cardiologist and is best reserved
for those patients who are at high risk or continue to have symptoms despite optimal medical
treatment and may require revascularisation. It may also provide valuable information regarding
valvular and left ventricular function.
Coronary angiography should be considered after non-invasive testing where patients
are identied to be at high risk or where a diagnosis remains unclear.
Other investigations
Newer investigations including stress echocardiography, magnetic resonance perfusion imaging
(MRI) and multislice computed tomography (CT) scanning are also effective in establishing a
diagnosis of CHD when performed by trained and skilled teams.31-33 These investigations are
not part of routine clinical practice in NHSScotland, although their use may become more
widespread as clinical and economic evaluations of their effectiveness become available.
A variety of models have been developed to facilitate prompt identication and optimum
management of patients with angina from those with potentially less severe causes of chest
pain. These models of care have been designed in varying ways emphasising the development
of a service which reects local health needs and demands. While many of these services
have a triage role, their design facilitates the early detection of patients who may have severe
CHD who would benet from early intervention. Optimum management of angina requires
reassurance of low risk patients while appropriately identifying high risk patients and making
the most efcient use of available resources.
Rapid access chest pain clinics (RACPCs) have been advocated as a successful model of referral
to secondary care for angina patients. These have been in existence for many years. The National
Service Framework for Coronary Artery Disease suggested more of these clinics should be set
up and rolled out across England and Wales to assess patients within two weeks of primary
care referral.34 No evidence was provided to explain the specic target of two weeks. These
clinics are run in a variety of ways, depending on local resources, where patients can be seen by
cardiologists, specialist registrars, nurse specialists or GPs with special interest in cardiology.
One detailed meta-analysis investigated a range of methods, including rapid access chest
pain clinics, in the diagnosis and management of acute coronary syndromes (ACS), suspected
myocardial infarction (MI) and exertional angina.21 Weak evidence was found to suggest that
RACPCs may be associated with reduced admission to hospital of patients with non-cardiac
pain, better recognition of ACS, earlier specialist assessment of exertional angina and earlier
diagnosis of non-cardiac chest pain. In a simulation exercise of models of care for investigation
of suspected exertional angina, RACPCs were predicted to result in earlier diagnosis of both
conrmed CHD and non-cardiac chest pain than models of care based around open access
exercise tests or routine cardiology outpatients, but they were more expensive. The benets
of RACPCs disappeared if waiting times for further investigation (eg angiography) were long
(six months).
The evidence around the cost effectiveness of RACPC for patients with suspected angina is very
limited. One study showed operating such a clinic can be cost saving, compared to standard
care, potentially reducing costs by about £60 per patient, with the savings coming from fewer
unnecessary hospitalisations.35 However, the study is weak, results are very setting specic and
may not generalise to other settings.
B Following initial assessment in primary care, patients with suspected angina should,
wherever possible, have the diagnosis conrmed and the severity of the underlying
coronary heart disease assessed in the chest pain evaluation service which offers the
earliest appointment, regardless of model.
3 Pharmacological management
This section deals with drugs that relieve and prevent angina symptoms.
All the studies reported were carried out on a mixed population with males as a majority and
included various age groups and patient entry criteria. Populations of patients with and without
past medical histories of MI, heart failure and other cardiac and non-cardiac comorbidities were
reported. The populations in the trials resemble the Scottish population who are treated for
chest pain resulting from CHD. Drugs that are unlicensed for the treatment of CHD in the UK
are not included in the guideline.
Beta blockers improve oxygen supply and demand balance by reducing heart rate and blood
pressure, decreasing end systolic stress and contractility and prolonging diastole, allowing more
coronary ow.
Meta-analyses have shown that beta blockers remain the rst line drugs for the long term
prevention of chest pain resulting from CHD.36-38 This is because of their potential to reduce
mortality in patients with acute MI or heart failure.39,40 One observational study suggests a
mortality benet of beta blockers in patients with stable CHD and without a past medical
history of MI or heart failure.41
Most randomised controlled trials (RCTs) have used older beta blockers such as propranolol,
metoprolol and atenolol for the treatment of stable angina,36-38 and newer beta blockers such as
bisoprolol have also been shown to be effective.42 The efcacy of beta blockers is due to a class
effect mediated through blocking beta adrenoceptors rather than to individual characteristics of
each drug. Comorbidity, eg heart failure, and other factors such as compliance and cost should
be considered when selecting an individual beta blocker.
The British National Formulary (BNF) indicates that the usual beta blocker regimens are: atenolol
100 mg daily in single or divided dosages, metoprolol 50-100 mg two to three times daily or
bisoprolol 5-20 mg once daily. Doses should be tailored individually to ensure maximum beta
blockade depending on the sensitivity of the patient to specic drugs. Resting heart rate less
than 60 beats per minute is an indication of beta blockade.43
Beta blockers are contraindicated in patients with severe bradycardia, atrioventricular (AV)
block, sick sinus syndrome, decompensated heart failure and asthma.43 Diabetes mellitus is
not a contraindication to beta blockers.
A Beta blockers should be used as rst line therapy for the relief of symptoms of stable
Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) inhibit calcium transport and induce smooth muscle relaxation.
Meta-analyses36-38 and RCTs44,45 have shown that CCBs are generally as effective as beta blockers
in reducing angina symptoms.
Few studies have directly compared individual CCBs using anginal symptoms as a clinical
endpoint. In a small RCT diltiazem and amlodipine were similar in improving exercise
tolerance in patients with CHD.45 The choice of CCB may depend on comorbidity and drug
Rate-limiting CCBs (verapamil and diltiazem) are contraindicated in heart failure and in patients
with bradycardia or AV block. Patients with heart failure and angina may be safely treated with
the dihydropyridine derivatives amlodipine or felodipine46,47 (see also SIGN guideline 95 on
the management of chronic heart failure).48
There is conicting evidence regarding the safety of nifedipine in patients with angina. A meta-
analysis has indicated that nifedipine monotherapy or short-acting nifedipine in combination
with other anti-anginal drugs may increase the incidence of cardiovascular events, mainly
angina episodes.49
Prinzmetal (vasospastic) angina is a rare form of angina in which pain is experienced at rest rather
than during activity. It is caused by narrowing or occlusion of proximal coronary arteries due to
spasm and cannot be diagnosed by coronary angiography. Beta blockers should not be used in
this form of angina because they may worsen the coronary spasm.50 Patients with this condition
may be treated effectively with a dihydropyridine derivative CCB such as amlodipine.51
B Patients with Prinzmetal (vasospastic) angina should be treated with a dihydropyridine
derivative calcium channel blocker.
There are few studies on the efcacy of nicorandil in the treatment and prevention of chest pain.
One RCT showed that nicorandil was comparable to diltiazem in reducing angina.52 Another
trial demonstrated that nicorandil was as effective as amlodipine in patients with symptomatic
stable angina.53 In another RCT of over 5,000 patients, nicorandil was shown to signicantly
reduce the combined endpoint of CHD death, non-fatal myocardial infarction, or unplanned
hospitalisation for cardiac chest pain (15.5% to 13.1% hazard ratio 0.83, 95% condence
interval, CI, 0.72 to 0.97; p=0.014).54 A cost effectiveness analysis based on the results of this
trial estimated that the additional costs of adding nicorandil to standard care for patients with
angina were offset by the reduced hospitalisation costs.55
These drugs act directly on the vascular smooth muscle to produce venous and arterial dilatation,
reducing pre-load, after-load and oxygen demand.
Nitrates are effective drugs in the prevention and treatment of angina. In meta-analyses, there
was no signicant difference in the anti-anginal efcacy between long-acting nitrates and beta
blockers or CCBs.36,37 In a more recent RCT, the CCB amlodipine was shown to be more effective
than nitrates in controlling exercise-induced angina in elderly patients with stable CHD.56
Sublingual glyceryl trinitrate is effective for the immediate relief of angina and can also be used
to prevent ischaemic episodes when used before planned exertion.57,58
A Sublingual glyceryl trinitrate tablets or spray should be used for the immediate relief
of angina and before performing activities that are known to bring on angina.
Nitrate tolerance can be avoided by prescribing modied release long acting preparations or
by asymmetric dosing.59 Such regimens can be confusing to patients and could lead to non-
compliance and nitrate tolerance. Modied release oral nitrates that are given once daily provide
therapeutic plasma nitrate levels over the initial few hours following ingestion. Compliance
has been shown to improve when transferring from multiple dose regimens to once-daily
regimens.60,61 The low plasma nitrate level at 24 hours following ingestion appears to minimise
The main side effect of nitrates is headache, which usually wears off after continuous use, but in some
patients this could become intolerable and necessitate change to another anti-anginal drug.
An economic model compared a single daily dose regimen using a modied release formulation
with a twice-daily dose regimen, and assumed that better compliance with the single dose (88%
vs 68%) would improve symptom control and result in fewer visits to GPs.62 The two regimens
had very similar annual costs (£248 vs £250). The sensitivity analysis showed that the result
is highly sensitive to changes in the assumed compliance rates and drug costs. In Scotland,
prescription of a generic drug for the two dose regimen would be cost saving compared to the
single dose modied release option.
A Patients who are intolerant of beta blockers should be treated with either rate limiting
calcium channel blockers, long-acting nitrates or nicorandil.
Ivabradine, a selective If--channel inhibitor, acts to lower heart rate. In a double blind randomised
parallel-group trial ivabradine was shown to have equivalent anti-anginal efcacy to atenolol in
patients with stable angina.64 While symptomatic benet has been clearly demonstrated long
term protection against cardiovascular events has yet to be determined.
A meta-analysis of 22 RCTs demonstrated that the combination of a beta blocker with a CCB is
more effective than monotherapy in improving exercise tolerance. Time to 1 mm ST-segment
depression, total exercise duration and time to onset of anginal pain were signicantly increased
with the combined therapy compared to beta blocker alone (by 8, 5 and 12%, respectively).
This benet was only shown to be signicant within six hours of drug intake.65
Adding diltiazem to beta blockers produces a dose-dependent improvement in symptom control
and exercise tolerance.66 The British National Formulary suggests caution as this combination
may cause severe bradycardia and heart block in some cases.43
Dihydropyridine derivatives are safe when combined with beta blockers. The combination of
metoprolol with felodipine was shown to be slightly more effective than metoprolol alone in
one RCT.67 This trial showed a statistically signicant improvement in time until end of exercise
with felodipine-metoprolol combination (10/100 mg) compared with metoprolol 100 mg
(p=0.04) and felodipine 10 mg compared with metoprolol 100 mg (p=0.03). For time until
onset of pain or time until 1-mm ST-depression there were no signicant differences among
the treatment groups.
Other RCTs have shown that adding CCBs to beta blockers, although safe, offered very little or
no benet in relief of anginal symptoms.68-70
A When adequate control of anginal symptoms is not achieved with beta-blockade a
calcium channel blocker should be added.
Rate-limiting calcium channel blockers should be used with caution when combined
with beta blockers.
Adding isosorbide mononitrate to a beta blocker7 1 or to a CCB7 2 signicantly improves
performance on a range of clinical endpoints. Adding nicorandil to other anti-anginal drugs was
effective in reducing combined cardiac events. One of these composite endpoints was hospital
admission for refractory angina. There was no primary endpoint for reducing chest pain.54
The evidence for combining three drugs is very limited. In one study the combination of long
acting nitrates, beta blockers and CCBs was ineffective in improving exercise testing when
compared to a combination of two of the drugs.69
The patients included in these trials were mostly stable patients who perhaps did not require
another drug to control their angina. They were usually tested as to whether adding another
drug would reduce their existing angina, measured by the number of angina episodes, exercise
tolerance and amount of glyceryl trinitrate used. In ‘real life’ situations patients are given a
second or a third anti-anginal drug usually when they become refractory to one or two drugs.
More randomised trials are needed to test the efcacy of adding a third anti-anginal drug to
patients whose angina is not optimally controlled on a combination of two drugs.
Patients whose symptoms are not controlled on maximum therapeutic doses of two drugs
should be considered for referral to a cardiologist.
Patients with angina due to CHD are at risk of cardiovascular events and are eligible for secondary
preventative treatments to lower their risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). These interventions
are considered in more detail in SIGN guideline 97 on risk estimation and the prevention of
cardiovascular disease.73
Evidence from 287 studies involving a total of 135,000 patients with cardiovascular disease
including stable angina has shown that antiplatelet therapy, mainly with aspirin, given in a
dose ranging from 75 to 150 mg daily led to a signicant reduction in serious vascular events,
non-fatal myocardial infarction, non-fatal stroke and vascular mortality.74
Enteric coated products do not prevent the major gastrointestinal complications of aspirin therapy
and are signicantly more expensive than the standard dispersible formulation.75-77
A meta-analysis of data from 14 randomised trials of statins involving 90,056 patients including
patients with stable angina has shown the overall benet of statin therapy. There was a signicant
reduction in all-cause and coronary mortality, myocardial infarction, the need for coronary
revascularisation and fatal or non-fatal stroke.78
A All patients with stable angina due to atherosclerotic disease should receive long term
standard aspirin and statin therapy.
The question of whether patients with stable angina but without left ventricular systolic
dysfunction benet from angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibition is controversial. Four
large RCTs were identied which addressed this topic although the results are conicting.79-82
When re-analysed in two meta-analyses of these and other trials, ACE inhibitors signicantly
reduced all cause and cardiovascular mortality.83,84
The HOPE study involved 9,297 high-risk patients with vascular disease or diabetes plus one
other cardiovascular risk factor without history of heart failure or left ventricular dysfunction. It
showed that ramipril was associated with signicant reductions in all-cause mortality, myocardial
infarction and stroke in these patients.79 The use of perindopril in the EUROPA study involving
13,655 patients with stable coronary disease and no clinical evidence of heart failure reduced the
risk of cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction or cardiac arrest.80 This signicant reduction
in cardiovascular events is mainly due to the reduction in the incidence of non-fatal myocardial
infarction. Unlike the HOPE study, the effect on all-cause mortality did not reach a statistically
signicant level. Subgroup analysis of the trial showed that benet from perindopril is mainly
in patients with history of myocardial infarction.
Two other trials of ACE inhibitors did not show any benet in patients with stable coronary heart
disease. The PEACE trial using trandolopril of 8,290 patients with no history of clinical heart
failure or echocardiographic evidence of left ventricular systolic dysfunction did not reveal any
benet on cardiovascular events although the event rate was unexpectedly low.81 The study
population in this trial was of lower risk and received more intensive treatment of risk factors
than did those in the HOPE and EUROPA trials.
A smaller trial (QUIET) of 1,750 patients with coronary heart disease and normal left ventricular
function found that the ACE inhibitor quinapril did not signicantly affect clinical outcomes or
the progression of coronary atherosclerosis.82 All patients recruited to this trial had undergone
successful coronary angioplasty involving the revascularisation of at least one coronary artery.
A meta-analysis of six randomised trials, including 33,500 patients with coronary artery disease
and preserved left ventricular systolic function showed that ACE inhibitors signicantly reduced
cardiovascular (relative risk, RR 0.83, CI 0.72 to 0.96, absolute risk reduction, ARR 0.86%,
p=0.01) and all-cause mortality (RR 0.87, CI 0.81 to 0.94, ARR 1.06%, p=0.0003).83
When the ndings of the HOPE, EUROPA, and PEACE trials were combined in a meta-analysis
of 29,805 patients, ACE inhibitors signicantly reduced all-cause mortality (7.8 vs 8.9%,
p=0.0004), cardiovascular mortality (4.3 vs 5.2%, p=0.0002), non-fatal myocardial infarction
(5.3 vs 6.4%, p=0.0001) and all stroke (2.2 vs 2.8%, p=0.0004).84 Although PEACE and QUIET,
which did not show a benet of ACE inhibitors among their populations, both recruited patients
at apparently lower CVD risk, the PEACE trial was underpowered rather than affected by low
cardiovascular event rates in the study population.
Patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction (LVSD) or heart failure are at higher risk than
those included in HOPE, EUROPA or PEACE and will gain relatively more benet from ACE
inhibitor therapy.84 Systematic reviews in patients with chronic heart failure or LVSD indicate
absolute risk reductions ranging from 3.8 - 6%.85,86 All patients with stable vascular disease are
likely to derive some benet from these drugs, to a degree approximately proportional to the
level of baseline risk.
A All patients with stable angina should be considered for treatment with angiotensin-
converting enzyme inhibitors.
4 Interventional cardiology and cardiac surgery
The three principal coronary arteries are the left anterior descending (LAD), circumex (Cx)
and right coronary arteries (RCA). The right and left coronary arteries arise from their respective
coronary ostia just above the aortic valve. The RCA supplies the right side of the heart and
typically terminates as the posterior descending coronary artery supplying the diaphragmatic
(inferior) surface of the left ventricle. The left coronary artery continues for a variable distance
up to 3 cm as the left main stem (LMS) before dividing into LAD and Cx coronary arteries. The
left coronary artery branches supply the anterior and lateral walls of the left ventricle and the
majority of the septum. The clinically important distributions of coronary artery disease are:
left main stem disease
single, double or triple vessel coronary artery disease (SVD,DVD,TVD) depending on the
number of principal arteries diseased.
Multivessel disease typically refers to disease in more than one coronary artery and is not the
same as TVD.
Following coronary angiography, and assessment of left ventricular function, patients may be
considered for coronary revascularisation by PCI (percutaneous intervention) or CABG (coronary
artery bypass grafting).
The principal indications for revascularisation are symptomatic relief and prognostic gain
(increased life expectancy). Published guidelines87 recommend revascularisation for prognostic
and symptomatic benet in patients with the following anatomy:
signicant LMS disease (>50% stenosis), or
proximal three vessel disease, or
two vessel disease involving the proximal LAD.
The benet is greatest in patients with left ventricular dysfunction and/or evidence of reversible
ischaemia at low or moderate workloads on exercise testing. 87,187
Although not receiving prognostic advantage, the following groups of patients may receive
symptomatic benet from surgical revascularisation:
those with single vessel disease not involving the LAD88-90
those with two vessel disease not involving the LAD.89-91
Following the decision to intervene, the major consideration is whether this should be undertaken
by PCI or surgery. Coronary artery bypass grafting has historically been the rst line option but
with the development of stenting with PCI, the role of surgery has been challenged.
The choice of revascularisation technique involves careful consideration of medical and surgical
suitability, but informed patient choice must be of primary concern. In the context of stable angina
where any intervention is essentially elective, an adequate amount of time can be allocated
to allow appropriate clinical decision making and fully informed patient decision making.
Ideally, revascularisation options should be jointly considered by a multidisciplinary “Heart
Team” involving discussion between cardiac surgeons, cardiac anaesthetists, interventional
cardiologists and the patient.
Coronary artery bypass grafting and percutaneous coronary interventions are both
appropriate options for the alleviation of anginal symptoms.
Percutaneous coronary intervention denes angioplasty or percutaneous transluminal coronary
angioplasty (PTCA) where the artery is dilated by inating a ne balloon. In addition, PCI includes
stenting which involves dilating the artery by angioplasty and then inserting a ne lattice scaffold
to prevent the artery from recoiling (uncoated stent). More than 90% of PCI procedures now
involve implantation of one or more coronary stents. Stent technology is developing rapidly
and stents may be impregnated with drugs to prevent or retard endothelialisation and reduce
restenosis (coated, or drug eluting stents).
Several RCTs have shown that both sirolimus and paclitaxel coated stents reduce the need
for repeat revascularisation by around 50% when compared to uncoated stents.92-94 One large
RCT shows no difference in repeat revascularisation or major cardiac event rates between
sirolimus and paclitaxel coated stents.95 Coated stents delay re-endothelialisation and for this
reason dual antiplatelet therapy (aspirin plus clopidogrel) is recommended for periods of at
least three to six months post procedure as opposed to only four weeks for uncoated stents
(see sections 5.2 and 5.3.4).
There are anecdotal reports of late stent thrombosis even after this time period but no overall
excess in the incidence of stent thrombosis has been shown in any RCT.
Coronary artery bypass grafting has been used for over three decades to bypass coronary
stenoses. It is a major surgical procedure with a low mortality which involves the bypassing of
a section of coronary artery narrowed by atheroma with a section of healthy saphenous vein
or internal mammary artery. In the UK Cardiac Surgical Register (UKCSR) for 2003 the overall
30 day mortality was 2.0%.96 This includes salvage procedures performed in patients who may
have died even if surgery had not been undertaken.
Coronary artery bypass grafting may be performed using cardiopulmonary bypass where
a pump and oxygenator perform the role of the heart and lungs and permit the surgeon to
operate on a still non-beating, protected heart. This “on-pump” surgery was considered to be
responsible for some of the deleterious effects following CABG such as cognitive dysfunction
or exaggerated systemic inammatory response, and consequently off-pump coronary artery
bypass surgery has emerged as a technique to perform CABG without cardiopulmonary bypass.
Although considered minimally invasive, the procedure still involves a chest incision. Minimally
invasive direct coronary bypass surgery attempts to reduce the major skin incision but its use
is not widespread.
Nine trials were identied which compare CABG with PCI without stenting97-105 and a further
six which compare CABG with PCI utilising a stent.106-111
Patient groups known to benet from CABG, eg those with LMS disease, were excluded
from these trials and although 11 claimed to be trials of multivessel PCI, only around 35% of
randomised patients in these multivessel trials had TVD. In all trials but one,107 patients had good
left ventricular function and patients with diabetes accounted for around 15% of the total.
Up to three years post intervention, studies demonstrate that PCI with uncoated stents has
equivalent event rates for death, non-fatal MI and stroke to CABG. Although surgery is superior
for freedom from angina and the need for repeat revascularisation, this has to be balanced against
the invasive nature of CABG. In the trials comparing PCI with CABG, the average number of
vessels revascularised is less in the PCI group. Incomplete revascularisation has deleterious effects
on long term survival although this may be attenuated by improved secondary prevention.112
Coronary artery bypass grafting is the preferred option if PCI cannot offer an equivalent degree
of revascularisation.
A Patients who have been assessed and are anticipated to receive symptomatic relief
from revascularisation should be offered either coronary artery bypass grafting or
percutaneous coronary interventions.
Patients with signicant left main stem stenosis were excluded from randomised controlled trials
leaving no evidence to support the role of PCI to improve long term outcome in this group. In
patients with multivessel disease, there is no robust evidence for a survival benet with CABG.
One meta-analysis showed a 1.9% absolute survival advantage in favour of CABG over PCI for
all trials at ve years (p<0.02), but no signicant advantage at one, three, or eight years.113 Given
the absence of signicant effect over a wider follow up period, it is possible that the apparent
interim survival advantage may be due to a statistical anomaly. Patients randomised to PCI had
more repeat revascularisations at all time points (risk difference; RD, 24% to 38%, p<0.001).
With the use of stents, this RD was reduced to 15% at one and three years. As stenting was
not available at the time some trials were carried out, a subgroup analysis was undertaken to
analyse possible differences in results of CABG vs PCI with and without stenting. At three years,
PCI with stent provided a statistically signicant reduction in non-fatal MI compared to CABG
(RD -2.9%, 95% CI -5.1 to -0.6%; p=0.01). Although subsequent revascularisation was still
more frequent after PCI with stent than after CABG, the risk difference for revascularisation in
trials with stents was about half that observed in trials without stents.
For patients with diabetes, CABG provided a signicant survival advantage over PCI at four years
but not at 6.5 years. This subgroup analysis included patients from the trials using PCI alone
making it less relevant to current practice. In the trials of uncoated stents PCI patients still had
more repeat revascularisations at three years: risk difference 15% (95% CI 10 to 28%).
One meta-analysis comparing CABG with PCI in isolated LAD disease demonstrated CABG was
associated with reduced multiple adverse cardiac events, reduced mortality and myocardial
infarction at a median follow up of three years. In this study, which included both RCTs and
observational data, six of the eight randomised trials used minimally invasive techniques and
one study involved coated stents.114
The BARI trial is the single largest randomised controlled trial of CABG vs PCI. The PCI arm did
not use stents. Results compared various subsets of patients shown to derive prognostic benet
in previous RCTs of CABG vs medical therapy. These subsets were three vessel disease with or
without left ventricular (LV) dysfunction (left ventricular ejection fraction, LVEF < 50%), and
two vessel disease including the proximal LAD with or without LV dysfunction. After seven
years of follow up there were no statistically signicant mortality differences between CABG
and PCI, even in patients with diabetes.115
Well designed randomised controlled trials give statistically valid data in a highly selected group
of patients but frequently less than 20% of eligible patients are randomised. Registry studies
do not have the same statistical weight as RCTs as patients are not randomised, but they may
provide an insight to current practice in a more clinically representative population.
Registry studies suggest that CABG results in better long term survival in patients with multivessel
disease compared to PCI with stenting. They also conrm the need for repeat revascularisation
in the PCI group.116,117 One registry and one cohort study demonstrate increased long term
mortality in patients with diabetes treated by PCI.118,119
Further registry data show a reduction in long term mortality in those patients with severe proximal
LAD disease who underwent CABG.116 The stent usage in this registry was low. All studies
conrm that CABG provides better relief of angina and less need for re-intervention.120,121
A Patients with signicant left main stem disease should undergo coronary artery bypass
A Patients with triple vessel disease should be considered for coronary artery bypass
grafting to improve prognosis, but where unsuitable be offered percutaneous coronary
A Patients with single or double vessel disease, where optimal medical therapy fails to
control angina symptoms, should be offered percutaneous coronary intervention or
where unsuitable, considered for coronary artery bypass grafting.
Long term patency rates in excess of 95% beyond ten years have been reported for
anastamosis of the left internal mammary artery (IMA) to the LAD. This superior long term
patency compared to saphenous vein grafts (SVG) leads to signicant reduction in long term
mortality, subsequent myocardial infarction, the need for further operation and freedom from
late cardiac events.122,123
Reports on the use of both IMAs have reinforced the benets of arterial revascularisation. In
patients where both IMAs were used, there was marginally improved long term survival at ve,
ten and 15 years (94%, 84% and 67% for bilateral IMA and 92%,79% and 64% for single IMA).
This prognostic benet was accompanied by a reduced need for re-operation and PCI.124-126
The radial artery is also a suitable conduit and may be used as a free graft applied to the
aorta or as a composite “Y” graft from a left IMA. Five year angiographic patency in a small
number (n=50) of asymptomatic patients was 89% for radial artery with IMA patency
exceeding 94% and SVG patency of 92%.127
In one randomised trial of total arterial revascularisation (TAR) comparing IMA and SVG
grafts at one year, angina recurrence, the need for reintervention with PCI and actuarial
freedom from cardiac events were less in the TAR group. Angiography demonstrated SVG
patency at around 90%.128
The results of SVG patency may reect the importance of secondary preventative therapy.
Some studies have noted an increased rate of stenosis of radial artery grafts and have
cautioned on their applicability in target vessels with only moderate stenosis. Total arterial
revascularisation may confer long term benet but application of the radial artery graft to
sub-critical stenoses may not confer benet.129-131
D Patients undergoing surgical revascularisation of the left anterior descending coronary
artery should receive an internal mammary artery graft, where feasible.
Several studies have compared the cost effectiveness of CABG and PCI.132-142 The primary outcome
in these studies was change in resource use (initial cost of procedure and future resources
required, particularly those associated with revascularisation); the type and numbers of repeat
revascularisation following the initial procedure was the key source of variability across
Although the studies have different inclusion and exclusion criteria and have used different
timeframes and costing techniques, the evidence suggests that CABG is the more expensive
technology for the initial in-hospital stay and during the rst few years of follow up. Thereafter
the need for repeat revascularisation erodes the initial cost advantage of PCI so that by ve
years following any procedure the cost differences are unlikely to be signicant.
Careful patient selection can improve cost effectiveness, with patients with two vessel disease
having signicantly lower cost long term (ve to eight years) for PCI than CABG; whilst CABG
is more cost effective in patients with severe multivessel disease.
Only one of these studies used drug eluting stents140 and this limits the generalisability of the
evidence to a setting which has a high utilisation of such stents.
The seven cost effectiveness studies comparing coated stents with uncoated stents140,143-148 showed
that using coated stents was only cost effective for a minority of patients who were at high risk
of an adverse event such as those with multivessel disease or complex lesions.
With the diagnosis of CVD, secondary prevention medication is mandatory and should include
cholesterol lowering therapy usually with a statin, antiplatelet therapy and, if appropriate,
antihypertensive and hypoglycaemic medications (see section 3.3 and SIGN guideline 97 on risk
estimation and the prevention of cardiovascular disease).73 Following CABG, aspirin (75-300
mg daily) is the routinely prescribed antiplatelet medication.149 The administration of aspirin
within 48 hours of CABG was associated with a 48% reduction in MI and a 50% reduction
in stroke. The mortality in those receiving early aspirin was 1.3% compared to 4% amongst
those who did not.150 The Society of Thoracic Surgeons has recommended that aspirin should
be stopped for three to ve days before elective CABG and then restarted early after surgery.151
In those intolerant of aspirin, clopidogrel (75 mg daily) should be considered.
No evidence was identied for the use of dual antiplatelet therapy following PCI in patients
with stable angina. Following PCI, there is evidence to support the use of daily aspirin (75 mg)
combined with clopidogrel (75 mg) for one month in patients with acute coronary syndrome.
One trial showed that long term administration of clopidogrel after PCI (mean length eight
months) was associated with a lower rate of cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, or any
revascularisation (p=0.03), and of cardiovascular death or myocardial infarction (p=0.047)
compared to placebo.152 Dual therapy is associated with higher operative bleeding than single
antiplatelet therapy.153 The American College of Cardiology (ACC)/American Heart Association
(AHA) guideline on percutaneous coronary intervention suggests that for coated stents the
duration of therapy should be extended up to six months depending on the stent used.154
No evidence was identied for the use of long term beta blockers for asymptomatic patients
following CABG.
In all patients with evidence of left ventricular impairment, optimal medical therapy should
include use of an ACE inhibitor (or angiotensin II receptor blocker if intolerant) and consider
the use of beta blockers and further renin-angiotensin-aldosterone blockade (see SIGN guideline
95 on the management of chronic heart failure).48
SIGN guideline 57, cardiac rehabilitation, recommends that patients who have undergone
coronary revascularisation should receive comprehensive rehabilitation.155
The use of off-pump surgical techniques developed, in part, as a method of reducing potential
cognitive impairment after surgery (see section 6.3). A meta-analysis comparing off-pump with
conventional on-pump CABG did not demonstrate any signicant differences in 30 day mortality,
myocardial infarction, stroke or renal dysfunction but did show a reduced incidence of atrial
brillation, transfusion, inotrope requirements with reduced length of ventilation time and intensive
care unit (ITU) and hospital stay. The results for graft patency and neurocognitive function were
inconclusive.156 Two good quality RCTs were identied which indicate a benet of off-pump
surgery in reduction of cognitive impairment at three months for patients with one to three vessels
bypassed, which is not sustained at 12 months (decline 21% in off-pump group and 29% in on-
pump group at three months, 31% and 33% respectively at 12 months).157,158 One cohort study
also found a slight benet for off-pump surgery at six months in younger patients.159
A study looking at on- and off-pump surgical groups with cardiac and healthy controls found
no evidence of cognitive decline at three or 12 months on objective testing, but signicant
baseline differences between surgical and non-surgical control groups in self reported cognitive
problems. The study concludes that CABG patients, like similar patients with long-standing
coronary artery disease, have some degree of cognitive dysfunction secondary to cerebrovascular
disease before surgery.160
In contrast, one RCT found no signicant decline in cognitive function in either group
immediately after surgery and at two and a half months.161
Several variables appear to inuence outcomes. Age did not predict decline in cognitive function
although the patients tended to be relatively young (in their sixties).162 Patients may have marked
pre-surgical decits which mask the potential effect on cognitive function of type of surgery.161
Further evidence of the effect of CABG on cognitive function is reviewed in section 6.3.4.
A Off-pump coronary artery bypass grafting should not be used as the basis of providing
long term protection against cognitive decline.
Restenosis rates following uncoated stenting have been reduced, but not eliminated, by the
use of coated stents.163 No evidence was identied on which to base recommendations on the
treatment of restenosis, although both CABG and PCI with coated stents may be considered.
Refractory angina can be dened as persisting unsatisfactory control of anginal symptoms despite
maximal tolerated medical therapies and without further revascularisation options.
SIGN guideline 57 on cardiac rehabilitation recommends that patients with stable angina should
be referred for rehabilitation if they have limiting symptoms and after revascularisation.155
Patients presenting with refractory angina have often not received a comprehensive rehabilitation
programme, which may improve management of symptoms. The initial treatment of these
patients should follow an educational and rehabilitative approach, progressing to a cognitive
behaviour approach where appropriate. The latter has demonstrated positive outcomes in
both angina and chronic pain.164,165 These approaches should be taken prior to considering the
use of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), temporary sympathectomy, use of
opioids, destructive sympathectomy, and other interventions such as spinal cord stimulation,
(see section 4.7.2) surgical transmyocardial revascularisation, (see section 4.7.3) and enhanced
external counterpulsation (see section 4.7.4).
D Patients with refractory angina may benet from an educational and rehabilitation
approach based on cognitive behaviour principles prior to considering other invasive
This method consists of inserting a stimulating electrode into the thoracic epidural space under
local anaesthetic with the nal position of the electrode being determined by the patient’s
sensation of paraesthesia in the area where the angina pain is usually felt. One small randomised
trial lasting six weeks showed a reduction in angina attacks (p=0.01).166 In this study although
the control group had an inactive stimulator it is not possible to remove the bias of the lack of
paraesthesia induced by the neurostimulator.
This procedure consists of using a laser to create between 20-40 one millimetre transmural
channels in the exposed left ventricle. Suggested effects are the promotion of angiogenesis,
restoring blood supply to the myocardium or destroying its innervation.
A meta-analysis of seven trials compared laser surgical transmyocardial revascularisation (TMR)
plus continuing maximal medical therapy with continuing medical therapy alone in patients
with ongoing symptoms but not amenable to revascularisation intervention. Overall, there was
a non-signicant reduction in survival after one year with TMR (odds ratio; OR, 1.17, 95% CI
0.74 to 1.83, p=0.75), although angina class improvement was signicantly better with TMR
(OR 0.10, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.17, p<0.0001).167 In this type of trial with the lack of a sham
procedure there is a built in bias towards a placebo effect and masking is impossible.
One trial, based in the UK, showed a decrease of CCS score for angina of at least two classes
in 25% of those receiving the procedure as opposed to 4% of patients receiving medical
management alone at 12 months (p<0.001). The operative risks need to be balanced against
the potential benets of moderate improvement in angina and only minimal improvement in
exercise capacity (p=0.152).168
Enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP) involves the use of compressed air applied via cuffs
to the patient’s lower extremities in synchrony with the cardiac cycle. In early diastole, pressure
is applied sequentially from the lower legs to the lower and upper thighs to propel blood back
to the heart. This results in an increase of arterial blood pressure and retrograde aortic blood
ow during diastole (diastolic augmentation). At end-diastole, air is released instantaneously
from all the cuffs to remove the externally applied pressure, allowing the compressed vessels
to reconform, thereby reducing vascular impedance.
One RCT showed that when comparing EECP and placebo, exercise duration increased in both
groups, but the between-group difference was not signicant (p>0.3).169 Time to ≥1-mm ST-
segment depression increased signicantly from baseline in EECP compared with placebo
(p=0.01). More EECP patients reported a decrease and fewer experienced an increase in
angina episodes as compared with placebo patients (p<0.05). Glyceryl trinitrate usage
decreased in EECP but did not change in the placebo group. The between-group difference
was not signicant (p>0.7).
5 Stable angina and non-cardiac surgery
Patients with coronary heart disease undergoing non-cardiac surgery are at increased risk of
adverse cardiac events.170 Perioperative conditions such as stress, tachycardia, hypovolaemia,
hypotension, hypertension, anaemia, hypothermia, acute pain and hypercoaguable states
can all affect the myocardium and coronary microcirculation and may precipitate myocardial
infarction, myocardial ischaemia or signicant arrhythmias. These cardiac events are associated
with increased mortality and morbidity, length of stay and consequent higher costs. Prevention
of perioperative cardiac complications is considered a priority and has been the subject of
practice guidelines.171 Patients who develop postoperative ischaemic events such as myocardial
infarction or ischaemia are at increased risk of developing adverse cardiac outcomes within
two years following surgery.172
An assessment of the risk of serious cardiac complications requires teamwork and good
communication between surgeons, anaesthetists and physicians/cardiologists. This may
be facilitated by preoperative clinics. Assessment for surgery should consider the inherent
procedural risk, patient-specic factors and functional capacity. As myocardial ischaemia is an
important predictor of major adverse cardiac events after non-cardiac surgery, a full clinical
history and examination and resting electrocardiogram should be assessed.171 Patients at
increased risk may undergo additional risk stratication usually by exercise tolerance test.171
Where this is impractical other non-invasive tests such as stress echocardiography or myocardial
perfusion scintigraphy could be considered. Coronary angiography may be indicated where a
high risk is identied and is the investigation of choice to dene the coronary anatomy.
Other patient-specic factors are listed in Table 2. The ACC/AHA guidelines on perioperative
cardiovascular evaluation for non-cardiac surgery include a full discussion of preoperative
Table 2: Clinical predictors of major perioperative cardiovascular risk
Patient-specic risk factors
Acute or recent myocardial infarction *
Unstable or severe angina
Decompensated heart failure
Signicant arrhythmias
Severe valvular heart disease
Adapted from American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology guidelines171
* Acute myocardial infarction is dened as occurring within seven days of surgery and recent
infarction occurring between seven days and one month of surgery.
If a recent stress test does not indicate residual myocardium is at risk, the likelihood of reinfarction
is low and although no adequate clinical trials have been identied it seems reasonable to wait
four to six weeks after MI to perform elective surgery. Historical recommendations to wait six
months after MI before elective surgery are unsupported by evidence and the major determinant
of risk is the amount of residual at-risk myocardium.171,173
The discovery of major risk factors before non-cardiac surgery will usually result in postponement
of surgery and the investigation and treatment of that problem. Procedural risk should also be
quantied (see Table 3), to help select patients who may benet from further evaluation or
Table 3: Surgical procedures stratied by cardiac risk level
HIGH RISK PROCEDURES reported cardiac risk >5%
Emergency major operations, particularly in the elderly
Aortic and other major vascular surgery
Peripheral vascular surgery
Anticipated prolonged surgical procedures associated with large uid shifts and/or blood loss
INTERMEDIATE RISK PROCEDURES reported cardiac risk generally <5%
Carotid endarterectomy
Head and neck surgery
Intraperitoneal and intrathoracic surgery
Orthopaedic surgery
Prostate surgery
LOW RISK PROCEDURES reported cardiac risk generally<1%
Endoscopic procedures
Supercial procedures
Cataract surgery
Breast surgery
The Revised Cardiac Risk Index (RCRI) is a simple risk stratication tool which combines patient
risk and procedural risk and can aid clinical decision making (see Table 4).170 In this report of
the risk of major cardiac complications with major non-emergency, non-cardiac surgery, six
factors with approximately equal prognostic importance were identied.
Table 4: Revised Cardiac Risk Index
Clinical factors
High risk surgery
History of ischaemic heart disease
History of congestive heart failure
History of cerebrovascular disease
Preoperative insulin treatment
Preoperative creatinine >180 micromol/l.
The rates of major cardiac complications postoperatively with 0, 1, 2, 3 or more risk factors were
0.5%, 1.3%, 4% and 9% respectively.
High risk surgery is dened as intraperitoneal, intrathoracic, or suprainguinal vascular procedures.
A history of CHD is dened as any of the following: a history of MI, positive exercise tolerance
test, current complaint of chest pain of ischaemic origin, use of nitrate therapy or pathological
Q waves on ECG. Patients with prior revascularisation are only classied as having CHD if they
have one of the above criteria.
Patients identied at high risk of cardiac complications using the RCRI may undergo further risk
stratication with non-invasive testing or other risk reduction management strategies. These risk
reduction strategies may involve preoperative revascularisation or medical therapy.174 Those
identied as low risk may proceed to surgery. The Revised Cardiac Risk Index has been modied
for patients having vascular surgery.175
The urgency of the surgical procedure and the presence of recent cardiac investigations will
inuence the decision on whether further cardiac investigations are appropriate. Clinical
circumstances will determine whether a delay for investigation and preoperative optimisation
can be justied.
Additional information can be derived from the functional capacity of patients and non-invasive
tests such as exercise ECG tolerance testing, stress echocardiography and MPS. In general,
indications for preoperative coronary angiography are similar to the non-operative setting.
These are patients with known or suspected CHD and:
evidence of high risk of adverse outcome based on non-invasive test results, or
unstable angina facing intermediate or major types of non-cardiac surgery, or
equivocal non-invasive test results in a patient with high clinical risk undergoing high risk
non-cardiac surgery.171
The risk of cardiac complications is signicant (4% or greater) in patients undergoing high risk
surgery and who have at least one CHD risk factor (see Table 4). These individuals should
generally be considered for further investigation. Some combinations of risk factors may not
predispose the individual to equal levels of risk for cardiac complications and clinical judgement
should be used to stratify patients accordingly.
B As part of the routine assessment of tness for non-cardiac surgery, a risk assessment
tool should be used to quantify the risk of serious cardiac events in patients with
coronary heart disease.
B Patients undergoing high risk surgery who have a history of coronary heart disease,
stroke, diabetes, heart failure or renal dysfunction should have further investigation by
either exercise tolerance testing or other non-invasive testing or coronary angiography,
if appropriate.
Where a high risk is identied, a strategy for risk reduction should be agreed. This will
require teamwork and good communication between surgeon, anaesthetist, physician/
cardiologist and patient.
Functional capacity has been shown to predict perioperative and long term cardiac events
and should be part of the preoperative assessment of patients with CHD undergoing major
Functional capacity can be expressed in metabolic equivalents of task (METs). One MET is the
oxygen consumption of a 40 year old 70 kg man at rest and is equal to 3.5 ml/min/kg. Patients
who are unable to meet a four MET demand during most normal daily activities are at increased
risk of perioperative and long term cardiac events.176
Different scoring systems are available to measure functional capacity objectively such as
the NYHA Score,177 Karnofsky Performance Scale178 or the Duke Activity Score which is a
self completed questionnaire using a set of common daily living items.179 Simple exercise
testing may further rene risk assessment. The failure to climb two ights of stairs, which is the
equivalent of > four METs, is a good predictor of mortality associated with thoracic surgery
and complications after major non-cardiac surgery.180
Cardiopulmonary exercise testing has been used to identify high risk groups for major non-
cardiac surgery. The measurement of anaerobic threshold (AT) may be a better predictor than the
maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max) as it is more independent of patient motivation.181,182
In elderly patients undergoing major abdominal surgery, a group of patients with an AT of
<11 ml/kg/min (three METs) had a higher mortality rate when compared to the group with
an AT >11 ml/kg/min. The anaerobic threshold is a better measure of the ability to meet the
demands of prolonged stress associated with major surgery than VO2 max. The anaerobic
threshold may vary in any individual between 50% to 100% of the VO2 max.
Further studies are necessary to evaluate the cost effectiveness and clinical utility of
cardiopulmonary exercise testing as a means of risk assessment before major surgery. Simple
assessment of functional capacity by patient questionnaires and simple exercise testing such
as stair climbing in thoracic surgery are valuable.179,180 Many hospitals in Scotland do not have
access to cardiopulmonary exercise testing.
D An objective assessment of functional capacity should be made as part of the
preoperative assessment of all patients with coronary heart disease before major
Data from the Coronary Artery Surgery Study (CASS) registry conrmed that clinically stable
patients (n=1,297) undergoing low risk surgery (urology, orthopaedic, breast, and skin
surgery) had a low mortality (<1%) regardless of prior coronary treatment.183 Those (n=1,961)
undergoing high risk surgery (abdominal, vascular, thoracic and head and neck surgery) had a
combined MI/death rate among patients with non-revascularised CHD of >4%. Among these
prior CABG was associated with fewer deaths (1.7% vs 3.3%) and myocardial infarctions (0.8%
vs 2.7%) compared to medically managed coronary disease. These patients were enrolled
between 1974 and 1979 and the results may not be applicable to contemporary practice.
The Coronary Artery Revascularisation Trial randomly assigned patients at risk for perioperative
cardiac complications and clinically significant coronary heart disease to undergo either
revascularisation or no revascularisation before elective major non-cardiac vascular surgery.184 At
2.7 years after randomisation, mortality was 22% in the revascularisation group and 23% in the
no revascularisation group. These results conict with the CASS study and may reect the bias
of observational studies or that major vascular surgery is high risk and that advances in medicine
resulted in many of the patients in the no revascularisation group receiving beta blockers, statins,
aspirin and ACE inhibitors. After coronary catheterisation patients with signicant left main stenosis
(54 patients), poor left ventricular function (11 patients) and severe aortic stenosis (eight patients) were
excluded from this study. Only 31% of the no revascularisation group had triple vessel disease.
Preoperative CABG will be appropriate for only a minority of patients as the procedure carries a
signicant risk of mortality (around 3%) and morbidity, and these risks must be added to those
of the coronary angiography and the non-cardiac surgery itself. Compared to case-matched
controls, patients who underwent non-cardiac vascular surgery within a month of CABG suffered
signicantly greater mortality (20.6% vs 3.9%, p<0.005).185 A signicantly higher risk of cardiac
complications (27%) was found in patients undergoing non-cardiac procedures in the rst month
after CABG.186 This remained higher (17%) until the sixth month following CABG.
Although denitive evidence for a safe period to delay non-cardiac surgery after CABG is lacking,
it seems prudent to avoid elective non-cardiac surgery for at least one month and possibly up
to six months. The timing of surgery will depend on the balance of risks and benets which, in
an individual patient, will depend on the severity of the coronary artery disease and the nature
and urgency of the non-cardiac surgery.
Overall survival benet is seen only in patients who would warrant CABG surgery independently
of their major non-cardiac surgery. These indications are signicant left main stenosis, triple
vessel disease in conjunction with LV dysfunction, two vessel disease including proximal LAD,
and unstable symptomatic CHD despite full medical therapy.187 When time allows these patients
may be offered preoperative CABG.
There is no evidence for the use of prophylactic percutaneous coronary intervention before
non-cardiac surgery in patients with stable angina.
In the absence of any other data, indications for PCI are essentially identical to the non-operative
setting, which are the relief of anginal symptoms resistant to medical therapy. Patients who
have had PCI and stent insertion are at risk of stent thrombosis if their dual antiplatelet therapy
is discontinued.188,189 The risk of cardiac complications after non-cardiac surgery is greater if a
recent (<35 days) coronary artery stent has been inserted compared to >90 days.190
The combination of aspirin and clopidogrel increases the risk of bleeding during CABG, which
may also be increased postoperatively.191,192
There is limited evidence regarding the best time delay after PCI before proceeding to non-cardiac
surgery. Following balloon angioplasty, at least one week should be left to allow healing of the
traumatised vessel wall. After a bare metal stent insertion, four weeks of dual antiplatelet therapy
are required. A delay of six weeks before non-cardiac surgery has been recommended by which
time bare metal stents are generally re-endothelised and clopidogrel can be discontinued.188,189
Drug eluting stents delay re-endothelialisation and dual antiplatelet therapy (aspirin plus
clopidogrel) must be continued for at least three months after sirolimus stents and six months
after paclitaxel stents.193,194 Thereafter, clopidogrel can be discontinued.
Elective non-cardiac surgery should be deferred until dual antiplatelet therapy is no longer
required, to minimise the perioperative risks of bleeding and in-stent thrombosis.188 If surgery
cannot be delayed, dual antiplatelet therapy should be continued if possible.195 Premature
discontinuation of antiplatelet therapy is associated with a very high risk of stent thrombosis
which is often fatal. The bleeding risk of the proposed emergency surgical procedure must be
extremely high and the disease requiring surgery must be life threatening to justify stopping
the antiplatelet agents.151
D Coronary artery bypass grafting is not recommended before major or intermediate
risk non-cardiac surgery unless cardiac symptoms are unstable and/or coronary artery
bypass grafting would be justied on the basis of long term outcome.
D If emergency or urgent non-cardiac surgery is required after percutaneous coronary
intervention, dual antiplatelet therapy should be continued whenever possible. If
the bleeding risk is unacceptable and antiplatelet therapy is withdrawn, it should be
reintroduced as soon as possible after surgery.
The indications used for revascularisation prior to non-cardiac surgery should be those
used in the non-operative setting.
Where possible, non-cardiac surgery should be delayed for at least one month after
coronary artery bypass grafting. When deciding when to operate, the balance of risks
and benets in an individual patient will depend on the severity of the coronary artery
disease and the nature and urgency of the non-cardiac surgery.
In one study of histological analysis in patients who had suffered fatal postoperative MI, plaque
rupture had occurred in almost half of the cases. This was commonly associated with multivessel
coronary heart disease. The pathological ndings are similar to myocardial infarction in the
non-operative setting.196 Most postoperative myocardial infarctions were associated with non-Q
wave infarcts and were asymptomatic.197 The risk of non-cardiac surgery in patients with stable
angina can be minimised by optimising medical therapy in the perioperative period.
Beta blockers are an effective treatment for angina and are known to reduce mortality after MI
and in stable heart failure.198 It has been suggested that they may reduce the rate of perioperative
MI and cardiac death. Beta blockers prolong coronary lling time and may prevent fatal
ventricular arrhythmias and atheromatous plaque rupture in the presence of high sympathetic
nervous system drive.
A meta-analysis of 11 RCTs involving 694 surgical patients taking a beta blocker and
undergoing non-cardiac surgery showed that beta blocker use was associated with a 75% relative
reduction in risk of death from cardiac causes (OR 0.25, 95% CI 0.09 to 0.73; ARR 3.1%;
number needed to treat, NNT 32).199
Another meta-analysis of beta blocker use in patients undergoing non-cardiac surgery did not
show any statistically signicant benecial effects on any individual cardiovascular endpoint.
There was a 56% reduction in relative risk (5.02% absolute risk reduction, RR 0.44, 95% CI
0.20 to 0.97) for the composite outcome of cardiovascular mortality, non-fatal myocardial
infarction, and non-fatal cardiac arrest. Beta blockers may reduce the risk of major perioperative
cardiovascular events but increase the risk of bradycardia and hypotension needing treatment
in patients having non-cardiac surgery. Caution is required in the interpretation of these results
as only a moderate number of events occurred in the perioperative beta blocker trials and there
was statistical heterogeneity.200
The DECREASE trial studied 112 high risk patients with positive results of dobutamine stress
echocardiography undergoing vascular surgery.201 Those receiving bisoprolol at least one week
preoperatively and continued for 30 days after surgery had a reduction of 90% in the primary
endpoint of death from cardiac causes or non-fatal myocardial infarction which occurred in
two patients in the bisoprolol group (3.4%) and 18 patients in the standard care group (34%,
p<0.001). Another RCT found that atenolol administered intravenously 30 minutes before
surgery and orally thereafter in high risk male patients reduced ischaemia but not cardiac death
risk or MI during hospitalisation but did improve survival up to two years after discharge.202
Another small RCT in patients undergoing vascular surgery showed that intravenous esmolol
infusion from surgical recovery for 48 hours reduced the incidence of ischaemia. Ischaemia
persisted in the postoperative period in eight of 11 patients taking placebo (73%), but only ve
of 15 patients taking esmolol (33%, p<0.05).203
In summary, several RCTs and one meta-analysis have demonstrated that beta blockers reduce
the incidence of intraoperative myocardial ischaemia and in high risk groups may reduce the risk
of adverse cardiac events such as myocardial infarction and cardiac death after surgery. There
is still a debate in the literature regarding which patients will benet from beta blockade and
on the optimal method of administration. The withdrawal of beta blocker therapy is associated
with increased risk. A large international study which addresses the perioperative use of beta
blockers is underway.
In a retrospective review of 782,969 patients beta blocker treatment was associated with
signicant reductions in mortality in the highest risk patients (RCRI score of three or greater)
but was of no benet among the lowest risk categories (those with a score of zero or one).204
Generally, if time allows, it would seem safer to introduce the beta blocker in advance and
allow time for dose titration and assessment of tolerance. Acute withdrawal of beta blockers in
the postoperative period may increase the risk of postoperative cardiac complications.205
SIGN guideline 77 on postoperative management in adults206 and the American College of
Cardiology/American Heart Association guideline on perioperative beta blocker therapy207
recommend continuation of established beta blockade in patients undergoing surgery.
A Preoperative beta blocker therapy should be considered in patients with coronary heart
disease undergoing high or intermediate risk non-cardiac surgery who are at high risk
of cardiac events.
Where possible beta blockers should be started days or weeks in advance of surgery to
allow for dose titration and to assess tolerance.
B Pre-existing beta blocker therapy should be continued in the perioperative period.
Alpha 2 agonists inhibit the sympathetic outow, reduce peripheral noradrenaline release and
dilate post stenotic coronary arteries and may be benecial in the perioperative setting. One
meta-analysis identied 23 studies comprising 3,395 patients. Alpha 2 agonists signicantly
reduced mortality (RR 0.47; 95% CI 0.25 to 0.90; ARR 1.9%; p=0.02) and myocardial infarction
(RR = 0.66; 95% CI 0.46 to 0.94; ARR 3.3%; p=0.02) after vascular surgery.208 The largest
benets were seen in vascular and cardiac surgery. Non-signicant increases in bradycardia
and hypotension were also seen. Minimal data was identied on the use of alpha 2 agonists
in non-vascular surgery. There has been no direct comparison of alpha 2 agonists with beta
blockers. Further large RCTs are needed in non-cardiac surgical patients.
In a study of 2,854 patients with or at risk of coronary heart disease mivazerol administered
during anaesthesia and surgery on a double blind placebo controlled basis led to a signicant
reduction in all cause and cardiac mortality (RR=0.67, CI 0.45 to -0.98; ARR 4.3%) in patients
undergoing major reconstructive vascular surgery.209
Mivazerol and dexmedetomidine are not licensed in the UK. Clonidine is available and although
the potential benets do seem to be a class effect, the data on clonidine are limited to smaller
One RCT of 190 patients with or at risk of CHD investigated the effect of clonidine in patients
undergoing non-cardiac surgery. The study group was given 0.2 mg oral clonidine followed
by a patch for four days. Prophylactic administration of clonidine reduced the postoperative
mortality for up to two years (RR 0.43, CI 0.21 to 0.89; ARR 14%; p=0.035).210 Clonidine is
not licensed for this indication.
There is some evidence that CCBs may reduce the cardiac risk of non-cardiac surgery. The
evidence base is weak, consisting of small, often unblinded studies. One meta analysis included
11 studies of 1,007 patients in which diltiazem, verapamil or nifedipine were assessed in major
non-cardiac surgery.211 Calcium channel blockers reduced by half perioperative ischaemia
(RR 0.49, CI 0.30 to 0.80; p=0.004) and supraventricular tachyarrhythmia (RR 0.52, CI 0.37
to 0.72; p<0.0001). There was no effect on heart failure. Trends toward a reduction in MI
(RR 0.25, CI 0.05 to 1.18) or mortality (RR 0.4, CI 0.14 to 1.16) were seen. Post hoc analyses
showed a signicant reduction in death/MI (RR 0.35, CI 0.15 to 0.86; p=0.02). The majority
of these effects were attributable to diltiazem. Further large well designed studies are required
to conrm any benet. There are no comparative studies with other drugs.
A meta-analysis of RCTs for the prevention of cardiovascular complications of non-cardiac
surgery found no benet for the use of perioperative CCB on cardiac death.199
Further evidence is required before CCB can be recommended as a form of medical therapy
to reduce the cardiac risk of non-cardiac surgery.
Aspirin has both antiplatelet and anti-inammatory effects and is known to reduce mortality in
unstable angina and after MI and stroke. Most patients with stable angina will be prescribed
low-dose aspirin therapy for secondary cardiovascular prevention.
In ve RCTs, preoperative administration of aspirin resulted in increased blood loss, blood
transfusion and reoperation after cardiac surgery.212-216
The benets of aspirin administration before or after non-cardiac surgery are less well dened.
SIGN guideline 62 on prophylaxis of venous thromboembolism recommends pre- and
postoperative aspirin as prophylaxis of asymptomatic and symptomatic venous thromboembolism
(VTE) in surgical patients.217
Aspirin may be stopped ve days before major non-cardiac surgery because of the bleeding
risks but these must be balanced against the risk of postoperative thrombotic complications such
as VTE, MI and stroke. A meta-analysis showed that whilst the rate of bleeding complications
was increased by low-dose aspirin by a factor of 1.5, it did not lead to a higher severity of
bleeding complications (with the exception of intracranial surgery and possibly transurethral
prostatectomy) nor of perioperative mortality because of bleeding complications.218
There is evidence that low-dose aspirin reduces the risks of stroke associated with carotid
endarterectomy and should be continued preoperatively.219 The American Association of
Colleges of Pharmacy recommends aspirin in patients receiving prosthetic femoropopopliteal
bypass grafts with therapy starting preoperatively.220
C Low-dose aspirin therapy should only be withheld before non-cardiac surgery in
patients with coronary heart disease where the aspirin related bleeding complications
are expected to be signicant (VTE, MI, stroke, peripheral vascular occlusion, or
cardiovascular death).
D If low-dose aspirin therapy is withdrawn before non-cardiac surgery in patients with
coronary heart disease, it should be recommenced as soon as possible after surgery.
Glyceryl trinitrate infusions do not reduce perioperative ischaemia221 and a systematic review
concluded that there was insufcient evidence to support the use of nitrates in the perioperative
period.199 No evidence was identied on nicorandil use in this setting.
In the operative setting statins may inuence plaque instability and rupture and subsequent
thrombosis and coronary artery occlusion. One RCT of 100 patients undergoing vascular surgery
showed that 20 mg of simvastatin administered daily for 45 days reduced the incidence of
cardiac events (RR 0.31; ARR 18%).222 Observational studies have shown associations between
statin use and reduced cardiac events after non-cardiac surgery.223,224
Early concerns about the use and safety of statins during hospitalisation for major surgery have
not been conrmed.225 In a study of 981 patients undergoing non-cardiac surgery, perioperative
statin use was not associated with an increased risk of myopathy (ie creatine phosphokinase
elevation with or without muscle complaints after major vascular surgery).226
B Patients with coronary heart disease undergoing major non-cardiac vascular surgery
should be established on a statin before surgery.
Patients presenting for non-cardiac surgery on statin therapy should have the statin
continued through the perioperative period.
Myocardial ischaemia is associated with hypoxia, hypothermia, anaemia, hypovolaemia,
unstable haemodynamics and inadequate pain control. These factors may adversely affect
the oxygen supply/demand relationship in the myocardium and must be considered in any
preventative strategy (see SIGN guideline 77 on postoperative management in adults).206
One systematic review of randomised trials of epidural anaesthesia indicated that the incidence
of myocardial infarction was reduced by about one third with neuraxial blockade (OR 0.70,
95% CI 0.54 to 0.90; ARR 0.9%; p=0.006).227 A smaller trial showed that myocardial ischaemia
was reduced with epidural infusions after hip fracture surgery.228
The MASTER study did not show any improvement in outcomes after abdominal surgery with
epidural analgesia.229
The use of an intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) has an established place in the management of
acute coronary syndromes complicated by cardiogenic shock, myocardial infarction complicated
by ventricular septal defects or papillary muscle rupture and refractory myocardial ischaemia
prior to revascularisation (see SIGN guideline 93 on acute coronary syndromes).11
No RCTs were identied on the use of IABP in non-cardiac surgery. Case reports have suggested
that some patients with severe CHD requiring urgent non-cardiac surgery may benet from
the support of an IABP.155 Experience in the insertion of and the management of the IABP is an
essential prerequisite to safe use.
6 Psychological and cognitive issues
Psychological factors exert an inuence on patients with angina in several ways:
limitations and concerns related to living with angina can inuence mood, degree of
disability, quality of life and mortality230-232
beliefs and misconceptions about heart disease have been shown to inuence outcome
(see SIGN guideline 57 on cardiac rehabilitation, section 2.1.4), and eliciting and reframing
unhelpful beliefs decreases disability 155,233
depression and anxiety inuence health service use (see SIGN guideline 57 on cardiac
rehabilitation, sections 2.1.1 and 2.1.2 )155
the presence of depression inuences mortality and morbidity234-238
patients commonly report cognitive difculties following CABG160,261
This section addresses the evidence about these issues.
The impact of angina on psychological health and function can be measured by assessing mood
and quality of life (QoL) using validated measures such as Hospital Anxiety and Depression
Scale (HAD). The evidence reviewed indicates a considerable impact of angina on QoL status.
Depression was associated with poorer function.230,239-242
Two large Scandinavian surveys of quality of life using the questionnaires SF-36 and Swed-Qual
found that patients with mild and moderate angina have signicantly lower quality of life ratings
compared with the general population and those with diabetes, epilepsy, and asthma.230,232
The same study group also demonstrated reduced and impaired sexual functioning in angina
patients compared with normal population.243
Two studies comparing patients with angina who were awaiting revascularisation with the normal
population found limitations in quality of life compared with the general Swedish population on
all domains of Swed-Qual, and SF-36. Persistence of angina after intervention (four year follow
up) was associated with reduced QoL.244,245 A large scale well conducted study of 1,025 patients
with CHD and angina, looked at the association between depression, physical limitations and
QoL over a three month period. Twenty eight per cent of patients were depressed, which was
signicantly associated with poorer scores on the Seattle Angina questionnaire (p<0.001). At
three month follow up, depression was associated with deterioration of functional status.230
A small, well conducted study based in Scotland followed up patients from a chest pain service
for six months. Standardised measures demonstrated presence of signicant symptoms of angina
(58%) and breathlessness (72%), with more than half affected by tiredness, mobility problems
and a restricted social and domestic life. More than 75% of patients had anxiety and depression
above the normal range, with risk factors poorly controlled.8
D Patients with angina should be assessed for the impact of angina on mood, quality of
life and function, to monitor progress and inform treatment decisions.
Mood, quality of life and function in angina patients can be assessed using validated
measures such as:
Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (generic)
The Dartmouth Primary Care Co-operative Information Project Functional Health
Assessment Chart
Seattle Angina Questionnaire – UK version
Cardiovascular Limitations and Symptoms prole (CHD specic).
Quality outcomes framework (QOF) targets for 2006 include two screening questions for
depression in patients with CHD for whom case nding has been undertaken in the previous
15 months:
“During the last month, have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed or
“During the last month, have you often been bothered by having little interest or pleasure
in doing things?”
A systematic review of four RCTs reported that the evidence of efcacy of psychoeducational
intervention for the management of chronic stable angina was inconclusive. Individually, the
trials indicated some positive effects on angina symptoms, angina symptom-related distress and
physical functioning, however they used different outcome measures, timing of outcomes and
heterogeneous analyses of measures.246
An RCT evaluating the use of the Angina Plan delivered by a nurse in primary care (patient held
workbook and relaxation programme) to patients who had begun treatment for angina within
the preceding 12 months, showed signicant reduction in mean number of self reported angina
attacks and physical limitation with reduction in anxiety and depression (p < 0.05).247
One RCT of autogenic relaxation training (guided relaxation focused on somatic sensations)
after angioplasty found that it reduced anxiety at two and ve months, although high drop-outs
reduce the strength of this study.248
B Patients with stable angina whose symptoms remain uncontrolled or who are
experiencing reduced physical functioning despite optimal medical therapy should be
considered for the Angina Plan.
Any psychoeducational treatments which are shown to reduce distress should be
considered alongside interventional treatments.
Patients’ reports of cognitive problems following CABG are common.160 The guideline has not
looked at the evidence for the mechanisms by which impairment may occur, apart from off- and
on-pump procedures (see section 4.5) and hypothermia (see section 6.3.3). Nor has it looked
at evidence for whether major surgery other than CABG affects cognitive impairment, nor the
prevalence of cognitive impairment in a CHD population as a whole.
An international consensus agreement denes cognitive decline as a 20% decrease in 20% of
tests.249 This denition allows comparison between studies but may produce a high proportion
of false positives due to natural uctuations in performance during repeated testing.250 A
further consideration is whether objective evidence of cognitive decline correlates with patient
perception of decline.
Outcomes from different studies are not always comparable as not all studies employ
neuropsychological measures consistent with the consensus agreement, there are differing time
periods for follow up and difculties controlling for other factors that might inuence outcomes,
eg age, pre-morbid levels of impairment and other variables.
There is little evidence on the effect of PCI on cognitive function. One underpowered study
compared PCI with CABG and found no difference in cognitive function at six or 12 months
in either treatment.251
A further study with poor methodology assessed patient and spouse perception of memory
problems one to two years post CABG and angioplasty. This found no difference between
CABG and PTCA patients.252
Medical factors
Hypothermia during CABG does not affect cognitive function postoperatively or at three month
follow up. Use of hypothermia showed a non-signicant trend to reduction of non-fatal strokes
(OR 0.68, 95% CI 0.43-1.05).253
One observational study found no relationship between the increase in lesions found on MRI
scan post CABG and increase in cognitive decline.254
Patterns of cognitive decline
The degree of decline varies depending on the length of time since surgery. Cognitive decline
is relatively common in the early period following surgery and, in some patients, the initial
decline may improve over the rst three months. A systematic review of 12 cohort studies and
11 intervention studies found that 22% of patients had evidence of cognitive decline at two
months post CABG. The relatively early follow up period used may overestimate the longer
term severity of the problem.255
Papers published subsequent to this review describe conicting results for decline in later time
periods post surgery. Two robust longitudinal studies of cognitive decline post CABG found
decline at six months in 24% and in 39% of those with pre-surgical impairment. 256,257 This
pattern was also found by two less robust studies.258,259
Longer term follow up of patients indicates an increase in the prevalence of decline from 24%
at six months to 42% at ve years,256 with similar results from another study.260 The Octopus
study group found an increase in decline in both on- and off-pump surgical groups from six
to 12 months (21-33% in off-pump group, 29% to 33% in on-pump group).157 These ndings
indicate that other factors may inuence continuing decline related to presence of cardiovascular
disease and the ageing process.
B Patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting should be advised that cognitive
decline is relatively common in the rst two months after surgery.
A robust cohort study compared on-pump and off-pump surgical patients, CHD patients without
surgery and ‘heart healthy’ controls to try to control for the presence of cardiovascular and
cerebrovascular disease.160 Both objective and subjective complaints of cognitive decline over
12 months were assessed. All three cardiac groups had lower cognitive scores at baseline (before
surgery), indicating some degree of impairment related to CHD status. All four groups showed
improvement in function over 12 month follow up with no evidence that surgical patients
did less well than cardiac controls. Subjective reports of deterioration in memory, personality
and reading were signicantly more frequent in both surgical groups compared with controls.
Surgery appears to exert a signicant inuence on patient perception of decline. Although this
self report is related to presence of depression, mood did not explain the higher incidence in
the surgical groups. These results conict with other studies and indicate that use of appropriate
controls may produce a different pattern of evidence of decline.
A further study found that 37% of patients showed a decline in cognitive function on formal
testing at six weeks post CABG but this did not correlate with patient perception of cognitive
The following factors predict poor cognitive outcome:
evidence of decline preoperatively and at discharge256,257,259
fewer years of education256,258,259
anxiety and depression257,261
female gender259
non-coronary atherosclerosis258,259
chronic disabling neurological illness258
limited social support.258
A cohort study looked at cognitive impairment and driving performance post CABG and
angioplasty (four to six weeks). Performance was worst in post CABG group (48% vs 10% of
paitents showing cognitive impairment) but lack of long term follow up means results should
be viewed with caution.262
A single study with a small sample indicated potential benet of pre CABG treatment with
hyperbaric oxygen in reducing neuropsychological dysfunction. Lack of availability of facilities
will limit availability of this treatment.263
D Patients who are older and have other evidence of atherosclerosis and/or existing cognitive
impairment may be more at risk of increasing decline and these factors should be
considered when evaluating options for revascularisation to achieve symptom relief.
Patients often report perceived changes in psychological functioning while taking cardiac
medications. There is very limited evidence available to address this question. An RCT comparing
lovastatin with placebo in healthy volunteers found no effect on measures of mental health
and inconclusive minor reductions in cognitive function (NB lovastatin is not licensed in the
UK).264 An RCT comparing losartan with atenolol in elderly patients with hypertension indicated
some minor benet of losartan in improving immediate and delayed memory (p<0.05).
However, small numbers and the non-standard outcome measures used mean these results
are inconclusive.265
There is no robust evidence in patients with angina demonstrating any effect of medication on
psychological functioning.
Depression in post MI patients predicts mortality and morbidity155 and psychological distress is
associated with higher healthcare costs.266 Evidence reviewed elsewhere (see SIGN guideline
97 on risk estimation and the prevention of cardiovascular disease),73 indicates that depression
is also a primary risk factor for the development of CHD of similar magnitude to standard risk
factors. The pattern in patients after CABG is similar, indicating that depression should be treated
with the same importance as other risk factors. A review of depression in CHD indicates the
need to address this problem systematically, and describes potential screening measures.267
Depression is a signicant factor inuencing mortality and morbidity post CABG. The prevalence
of depression before surgery ranged from 10% to 43%,234-238,268,269 and persisted at one year in
up to 21% of patients.234 Anxiety and depression were assessed using validated measures, with
classication of anxiety and depression being determined by scoring above a certain cut-off
point (clinical caseness) on the standardised measure of psychiatric adjustment used.
Three studies234-236 examined the relationship between depression and mortality including one
large robust study with long follow up (n= 817, mean follow up 5.2 years).234 Moderate to
severe depression pre CABG or persistent depression up to six months was associated with
two- to threefold increase in risk of death.
Another study showed highest fear and anxiety prevalence just after being put on the CABG
waiting list (50%) with levels clearly dropping at admission (30%) and continuing to drop
slightly at three months after surgery (20%). Differing anxiety measures gave different rates.
Those under 55 years remained more fearful.270 Women were more anxious and depressed
preoperatively than men 234,270-272 and one study indicated that women living alone were more
distressed than those living with partners.270
One study shows high rates of anxiety and depression pre CABG (anxiety 55%, depression
32%) which reduced to 32% and 26% three months after CABG. High levels preoperatively
predicted high levels three months after surgery.268
Three studies found early depression either pre-CABG or immediately post-CABG to predict
cardiac hospitalisation and poorer function/activity at six months.234,236,238 One study showed that
somatic complaints were associated with a similar prediction.273 This effect was independent of
other risk factors. Early depression also predicted likelihood of persisting depression and was
associated with less education, life stressors, low social support and dyspnoea.269 One study
found that two screening questions for depression identied those more likely to be readmitted
in the following six months, indicating that a simple screening method can identify those at
risk (see section 6.1).274
Two studies looked at the impact of gender in CABG and found that women tend to have poorer
psychological health than men preoperatively. They do less well than men postoperatively at
three and 12 months on function, overall health rating and depression. 271,272
A study of the inuence of depression on outcomes after angiography found it predicted CABG
and PCI rates over the next ve years.275
One case series found a high positive view of self, future and personal control over daily
life reduced likelihood of subsequent cardiac event over four years, in patients undergoing
The evidence indicates that depression and anxiety have similar detrimental effects on
outcomes in patients with CABG and angina as in post-MI patients. The SIGN guideline on
cardiac rehabilitation reported that comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation programmes improved
mortality, psychological and physical outcomes, and such rehabilitation programmes should
be considered for patients with stable angina after interventions.155
D Patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting should receive screening for
anxiety and depression pre-surgery and during the following year as part of postsurgical
assessment, rehabilitation and coronary heart disease secondary prevention clinics.
Where required patients should receive appropriate treatment (psychological therapy,
rehabilitation, medication).
D Rehabilitation programmes should be implemented after revascularisation for patients
with stable angina.
Particular attention should be paid to women, those living alone and those under 55
The NICE guidelines on management of depression277 and anxiety disorders278 in primary and
secondary care provide recommendations for appropriate treatments.
Individuals’ beliefs about their condition are derived from many sources in addition to medical
ones (eg, family, cultural group, media).233,282,283 Information from clinicians may be adapted
to t existing beliefs or ignored, thereby inuencing behaviour.279 Commonly found beliefs
such as ‘angina is like a mini-heart attack’ or ‘every time I get angina I am damaging my heart’,
inuence mood and degree of disability.
Observational studies from the same research group have examined the causal attributions and
beliefs about appropriate coping strategies in patients with stable angina. The two qualitative
studies found that causal attributions appear similar to those with MI.280,281 Most patients thought
stress was the cause of their angina, women were more likely to attribute angina to stress or
uncontrollable causes than their own previous behaviour and a large number do not cite risk
factors they are known to have. Beliefs were also likely to lead to avoidance of activity and
were maintained by partners.
A similar study compared views of angina patients and peers, nding that peers have greater
misconceptions than patients, which may reinforce the network of misconceptions held by
angina sufferers.282
The York Angina Beliefs questionnaire is a 14 item measure of beliefs about angina. It was
demonstrated to be a reliable and valid tool to measure misconceptions and beliefs in angina
patients, which may lead to avoidance of activity, disability and anxiety.283
A study of 140 patients examined causal attributions of patients awaiting PCI. Stress, family
history and cholesterol are cited as causes of CHD prior to PCI by more females than males.
Females were more likely to blame uncontrollable factors (biological) than men who cited
behavioural factors. There was a discrepancy between patients’ and healthcare professionals’
views of causes.284
The Angina Plan is an intervention which identies beliefs about angina, with educational
and management advice tailored to alter erroneous beliefs and their impact (see section 6.2).
An RCT showed that the Angina Plan successfully changed beliefs and improved functional
outcomes in patients three months following MI. The intervention group were more optimistic
that illness could be controlled or cured.233
D Patients’ beliefs about angina should be assessed when discussing management of risk
factors and how to cope with symptoms.
B Interventions based on psychological principles designed to alter beliefs about heart
disease and angina, such as the Angina Plan, should be considered.
7 Patient issues and follow up
During their journey of care a patient is likely to come in contact with a range of healthcare
professionals whose individual roles should be made clear.
A sympathetic approach is needed at all times, with the opportunity for reection and further
questioning as required. There may be a need for verbal information to be reinforced by written
or visual information and there should always be an opportunity to involve family members
and carers.
Patient information can be provided by means of prepared resources such as books, pamphlets
and other printed material. Use can also be made of audio or video tapes as well as computer
software and the internet. Very limited evidence was identied for the effectiveness of any
individual format over another.
Preparing patients for surgery by provision of information and addressing concerns, reduces
distress, length of stay and the need for analgesia.285
The educational interventions described in the evidence were not standard or delivered at the
same point in time in relation to interventions. Outcomes also varied between studies.
One RCT providing educational intervention for angina patients awaiting angiography showed
no effect on measures of anxiety or well-being after the procedure.293 One observational study
showed the waiting period prior to elective catheterisation is associated with a negative impact
on patients’ anxiety, and reduction in functioning and quality of life.286
Two RCTs provided differing educational-type interventions prior to CABG, (pain management
booklet, and an educational session early in the long wait for CABG). There was no effect on
pain scores, pain-related interference with activities or on postoperative analgesia in the rst
study, nor on anxiety, depression, pain score, general well-being and length of stay. Patients
in both studies received other educational input as part of standard care. All patients received
inadequate analgesia, women had higher pain scores and longer length of stay.287,288
One RCT of a protocol delivered telephone educational intervention post CABG did not show
any effect on anxiety of patient or partner at eight weeks.289
Motivational interviewing is a structured approach to helping people change behaviour, using
patient-centred but directed strategies (see SIGN guideline 97 on risk estimation and the
prevention of cardiovascular disease73 and SIGN guideline 57, cardiac rehabilitation155). One
RCT delivering education using a motivational interviewing approach by a specialist cardiac
nurse, shared with community nurses and the support of medical practitioners, was shown to
provide effective reduction in risk factors, anxiety and depression and improved perception of
general health status during the period of wait prior to CABG. The health of patients not assigned
to the treatment intervention deteriorated as assessed by outcome measures.290
One RCT provided audio-taped information on strategies to deal with expected physical
sensations and their management following CABG. This tape was listened to in the ward on
the fourth or fth postoperative day and was taken home by the patient. This showed benet in
physical functioning in women and psychological distress, vigour and fatigue in men compared
to usual care.291
Educational programmes delivered pre- and post-coronary artery bypass grafting should
consider the use of strategies based on psychological principles to improve management
of risk factors, psychological distress and physical functioning.
Patients newly diagnosed with angina and those who are immediately pre- and
postinterventions and revascularisation, should be given appropriate information to
help them understand their condition and how to manage it, and any procedure being
Health beliefs and misconceptions should be addressed when delivering information.
In 2007 the specied standard waiting time for surgery is 18 weeks from the time of angiography.292
Adverse effects in terms of morbidity and mortality occurring in patients waiting for investigative
or revascularisation procedures may be preventable if waiting times are eliminated.
One RCT of 228 patients which measured a variety of health related quality of life parameters
revealed that a waiting period prior to elective cardiac catheterisation has a negative impact
on patients’ anxiety, with reduction in functioning and quality of life.293
For patients waiting for cardiac interventions, enrolment in a nurse-led education programme
may help improve short term quality of life.
In an American cohort patients waiting for coronary angiography were followed up for an average
of eight months following the procedure and signicant adverse events classied. Compared
with the event free group, patients with adverse events more frequently had a history of known
CHD (55% vs 35%; p=0.03), CCS angina class III or IVa (42% vs 22%; p=0.01), and positive
stress test results (69% vs 46%; p=0.001).294
Long waiting times for coronary artery bypass grafting have been shown to have an adverse effect
on physical and social functioning before and after surgery with an increase in postoperative
adverse effects. In a cohort study of 360 Dutch patients, the median waiting time for patients
placed on the elective surgical waiting list (186 patients) was 100 days. The primary outcome
measures of death, myocardial infarction or unstable angina requiring hospital admission
occurred in around 5% of this group of patients. The majority of events occurred within 30
days of being listed for surgery.295
C Early access to angiography and coronary artery bypass surgery may reduce the risk
of adverse cardiac events and impaired quality of life.
Patients presenting with angina to their general practitioners have often been managed without
appropriate assessment and referral for possible intervention.296
A meta-analysis of cardiac secondary prevention programmes with or without an exercise
programme indicated that such programmes can have a positive effect on the process of care,
quality of life as well as reducing the reinfarction and mortality rates.297
Multidisciplinary disease management programmes for patients with CHD have been shown in
a systematic review to have a benecial impact on the uptake of secondary prevention drugs
and addressing risk factor proles.298 Three trials address follow up in patients with angina.
In the SHIP trial, a cardiac liaison nurse coordinated care with general practitioners in patients
discharged from hospital with newly diagnosed angina.299 Although this approach encouraged
follow up it did not improve objective measures of risk except in relation to blood pressure in
the patients with angina p<0.05.
Health promotion provided by health visitors in Belfast to patients with angina showed improved
physical activity and diet with less angina and social isolation after two years. At ve year
follow up after recruitment, three years after the end of the intervention, most of the benets
had worn off. Benets in respect of exercise and taking prophylactic drugs, although less, were
still evident (p<0.001 to p<0.05 for both categories).300 This would suggest that to be effective
health promotion advice needs to be provided on a long term basis.
In the third trial, patients with a diagnosis of coronary heart disease were recruited to the
Grampian nurse-led secondary prevention clinics versus routine care with the aim of promoting
lifestyle change and secondary prevention. After attending the clinics for one year there was an
improvement in quality of life and secondary prevention components except smoking. These
improvements were sustained after four years except for exercise. Those attending the clinics
also had fewer total deaths and coronary events.301 After adjusting for age, sex and baseline
secondary prevention, the proportional hazard ratios were 0.75 for all deaths (95% CI 0.58 to
0.98; p=0.036) and 0.76 for coronary events (95% CI 0.58 to 1.00; p=0.049).
Two further studies consisting of nurse or GP follow up with audit feedback302 and postal
prompts303 did not lead to signicant benets in secondary prevention. Provision of the
Angina Plan to patients with angina did lead to an improvement in reported diet and daily
walking (p<0.001).4
A Patients presenting with angina and with a diagnosis of coronary heart disease should
receive long term structured follow up in primary care.
8 Sources of further information and support for
patients and carers
British Cardiac Patients Association
BCPA Head Ofce
2 Station Road
Swavesey, Cambridge, CB4 5QJ
Tel: 0800 479 2800 Fax: 01954 202 022
The British Cardiac Patients Association is a charitable organisation run by volunteers providing
support, advice and information to cardiac patients and their carers.
British Heart Foundation (Scotland)
4 Shore Place
Tel: 0131 555 5891 Heart Information line: 08450 70 80 70 (available Mon-Fri 9am-5pm)
British Heart Foundation provides a telephone information service for those seeking information
on heart health issues. Also provides a range of written materials offering advice and information
to CHD patients and carers. Topics include physical activity, smoking and diabetes.
Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland
65 North Castle Street
Tel: 0131 225 6963 Helpline: 0845 0776000
Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland provides a 24 hour advice line offering condential, independent
advice on all aspects of chest, heart and stroke illness. A series of information booklets, factsheets
and videos is available free of charge to patients and carers. There are over 30 cardiac support
groups in Scotland which are afliated to CHSS, patients can contact CHSS for details of their
nearest local support group.
Depression Alliance Scotland
3 Grosvenor Gardens
EH12 5JU
Tel: 0131 467 3050
Depression Alliance Scotland provides information and support for people in Scotland who
have depression.
Heart Surgery in Great Britain
This website has been developed by the Healthcare Commission and the Society for
Cardiothoracic Surgery in Great Britain and Ireland to help heart surgery patients make informed
choices about their treatment. It provides patients and carers with information on the different
operations available and the benets of having heart surgery.
NHS Health Scotland
Woodburn House
Canaan Lane
Edinburgh, EH10 4SG
Tel: 0131 536 5500 Textphone: 0131 536 5503
Fax: 0131 536 5501 Email: (information on obtaining
Health Scotland publications); (help with general health
information enquiries)
NHS Health Scotland is a special health board within NHS Scotland. The organisation provides
information on projects, publications, support groups and information leaets relating to
Heart Manual Department
Administration Building,
Astley Ainslie Hospital,
Grange Loan, Edinburgh EH9 2HL
Tel: 0131 537 9127 / 9137
Email: •
The Heart Manual is the UK’s leading home based rehabilitation programme for patients
recovering from acute myocardial infarction. The programme is delivered by health
professionals who have completed a two day facilitator training course. It provides a
standardised approach for more than 250 major NHS users across the UK and Ireland, and is
in use in a number of overseas countries. It contributes to the recovery of more than 12,000
heart attack patients per year and has been shown to be clinically effective in studies.
NHS 24
Tel: 0845 4 24 24 24
NHS 24 is a nurse-led service for members of the public. It is a helpline offering health
information, advice and help over the phone.
Scotland’s Health on the Web
This website provides public access to publications relating to CHD such as the strategy for
CHD and stroke in Scotland.
9 Implementation and audit
Implementation of national clinical guidelines is the responsibility of each NHS Board and is
an essential part of clinical governance. It is acknowledged that every Board cannot implement
every guideline immediately on publication, but mechanisms should be in place to ensure
that the care provided is reviewed against the guideline recommendations and the reasons for
any differences assessed and, where appropriate, addressed. These discussions should involve
both clinical staff and management. Local arrangements may then be made to implement the
national guideline in individual hospitals, units and practices, and to monitor compliance. This
may be done by a variety of means including patient-specic reminders, continuing education
and training, and clinical audit.
The National Clinical Datasets Development Programme and ISD Scotland are working to develop
national standard datasets for implementation in IT systems supporting patient care. The following
clinical datasets have been developed and are available at
CHD core
Acute coronary syndromes
Cardiac rehabilitation
Heart failure
The CHD and Stroke Programme is setting up working groups to develop methods and coding
denitions to support monitoring of the implementation of the SIGN guidelines from new
datasets and existing data collections. Where there are gaps in the data ISD Scotland will work
to support the necessary information collection.
Diagnosis and assessment
What is the effectiveness of a RACPC compared to a traditional clinic in controlling angina
symptoms and reducing mortality and morbidity when patients access these services within
the recommended National Service Framework threshold of two weeks from primary care
What is the role of multislice CT scanning in the diagnosis of coronary artery disease?
More evidence is needed to identify the most effective model for the early assessment of
patients with suspected stable angina.
Pharmacological management
Further information is required on the role of ACE inhibitors in patients with stable angina
without further cardiovascular risk factors (eg diabetes, hypertension, MI).
What is the effectiveness of adding a third anti-anginal drug to patients whose symptoms
are not controlled with a combination of two drugs?
Interventional cardiology and cardiac surgery
For how long should beta blockers be continued after successful revascularisation?
What is appropriate management of restenosis following coronary artery
Psychological and cognitive issues
What are the mechanisms by which depression inuences mortality following CABG?
More robust studies are required on the relationship between patient reporting of cognitive
impairment and measurable impairment.
Further clarication is needed on the role of non-surgical factors in determining which
patients will demonstrate continued cognitive impairment following CABG.
An intervention study is needed on the effect of screening for high levels of depression
and anxiety pre-CABG and delivery of early postoperative rehabilitation and psychological
intervention, on patient outcomes and use of health service resources.
An economic analysis of health service use is required in patients with angina with high
levels of misconceptions and emotional distress.
Patient issues and follow up
What is the optimum review interval in primary care for patients with established
cardiovascular disease?
The following reports have been approved by NHS Quality Improvement Scotland.
NICE Technology Appraisal Guidance No 51 – The use of computerised cognitive behaviour
therapy for anxiety and depression.304
NICE Technology Appraisal Guidance No 52 – The use of drugs for early thrombolysis in the
treatment of acute myocardial infarction.305
NICE Technology Appraisal Guidance No 71 – Ischaemic heart disease - coronary artery stents
NICE Technology Appraisal Guidance No 80 – Acute coronary syndromes – clopidogrel.307
NICE Technology Appraisal Guidance 90 – Clopidogrel and modied-release dipyridamole in
the prevention of occlusive vascular events.308
NICE Technology Appraisal Guidance No 94 Statins for the prevention of cardiovascular
The Scottish Medicines Consortium has issued advice on the use of ivabradine (October 2006).310
Advice on a number of individual products within the following drug classes; statins, angiotensin
receptor blockers, beta blockers and direct thrombin inhibitors is also available.
Further details are available from
10 Development of the guideline
SIGN is a collaborative network of clinicians, other healthcare professionals and patient
organisations and is part of NHS Quality Improvement Scotland. SIGN guidelines are developed
by multidisciplinary groups of practising clinicians using a standard methodology based on a
systematic review of the evidence. Further details about SIGN and the guideline development
methodology are contained in “SIGN 50: A Guideline Developer’s Handbook”, available at
Dr Alan Begg (Chair) General Practitioner, Montrose
Ms Shona Black Cardiovascular Facilitator, Dundee Community Health
Mr Tom Brighton Lay Representative, Montrose
Dr Rob Cargill Consultant Cardiologist, Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy
Ms Joyce Craig Senior Health Economist,
NHS Quality Improvement Scotland
Dr Mohamed Elfellah Cardiovascular Lead Pharmacist, Aberdeen Royal Inrmary
Dr Neil Gillespie Senior Lecturer, Section of Ageing and Health,
University of Dundee
Mr Bob Jeffrey Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon,
Aberdeen Royal Inrmary
Dr Alistair Mace Consultant Anaesthetist, Western Inrmary, Glasgow
Mrs Catriona McGregor Head of Clinical Physiology, Ayr Hospital
Mr Alexander Masson Lay Representative, Montrose
Dr John Milne General Practitioner, Leslie Medical Practice, Glenrothes
Dr Moray Nairn Programme Manager, SIGN Executive
Dr Keith Oldroyd Interventional Cardiologist, Western Inrmary, Glasgow
Mr Dennis Sandeman Chest Pain Nurse Specialist, Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy
Mr Duncan Service Information Ofcer, SIGN Executive
Ms Nicola Stuckey Consultant Clinical Psychologist,
Astley Ainslie Hospital, Edinburgh
The membership of the guideline development group was conrmed following consultation
with the member organisations of SIGN. All members of the guideline development group
made declarations of interest and further details of these are available on request from the SIGN
Executive. Guideline development and literature review expertise, support and facilitation were
provided by the SIGN Executive.
A steering group comprising the chairs of the ve SIGN CHD guidelines and other invited
experts was established to oversee the progress of guideline development. This group met
regularly throughout the development of the guidelines.
Dr Kevin Jennings Co-chair and Consultant Cardiologist,
Aberdeen Royal Inrmary
Professor Lewis Ritchie Co-chair and Mackenzie Professor of General Practice,
University of Aberdeen
Dr Alan Begg Chair of SIGN stable angina guideline
Dr Nick Boon Consultant Cardiologist, Royal Inrmary of Edinburgh
Ms Marjory Burns Director for Scotland, British Heart Foundation
Mr David Clark Chief Executive, Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland
Professor Stuart Cobbe Chair of SIGN arrhythmias guideline
Ms Joyce Craig Senior Health Economist, NHS Quality Improvement Scotland
Dr Iain Findlay Chair of SIGN acute coronary syndromes guideline
Professor Keith Fox Professor of Cardiology, University of Edinburgh
Dr James Grant Chair of SIGN prevention guideline
Mr James Grant Lay representative, Balerno
Dr Grace Lindsay Reader in Clinical Nursing Research,
Glasgow Caledonian University
Dr Moray Nairn Programme Manager, SIGN
Professor Allan Struthers Chair of SIGN heart failure guideline
Dr Lorna Thompson Programme Manager, SIGN
The evidence base for this guideline was synthesised in accordance with SIGN methodology. A
systematic review of the literature was carried out using an explicit search strategy devised by
a SIGN Information Ofcer. Searches were focused on existing guidelines, systematic reviews,
randomised controlled trials, and (where appropriate) observational and/or diagnostic studies.
Databases searched include Medline, Embase, Cinahl, PsychINFO, and the Cochrane Library.
The year range covered was 1999-2005. Internet searches were carried out on various websites
including those for the Australian Centre for Clinical Effectiveness, National Institute for Health
and Clinical Excellence, the National Library for Health, Swedish Council on Technology
Assessment in Healthcare, US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the US National
Guidelines Clearinghouse. The Medline version of the main search strategies can be found on
the SIGN website, in the section covering supplementary guideline material. The main searches
were supplemented by material identied by individual members of the development group.
Each of the selected papers was evaluated by two members of the group using standard SIGN
methodological checklists before conclusions were considered as evidence.
A national open meeting is the main consultative phase of SIGN guideline development, at
which the guideline development group presents its draft recommendations for the rst time.
The national open meeting for the ve parallel SIGN guidelines on aspects of cardiovascular
disease was held on 16 September 2005 and was attended by over 600 representatives of
all the key specialties relevant to the guideline. The draft guideline was also available on the
SIGN website for a limited period at this stage to allow those unable to attend the meeting to
contribute to the development of the guideline.
This guideline was also reviewed in draft form by the following independent expert referees,
who were asked to comment primarily on the comprehensiveness and accuracy of interpretation
of the evidence base supporting the recommendations in the guideline. SIGN is very grateful
to all of these experts for their contribution to the guideline.
Professor Adrian Bagust Professor of Cardiology, University of Liverpool
Mr Alex Cale Cardiac Surgeon, Castle Hill Hospital, North Humbershire
Professor Stuart Cobbe Consultant Cardiologist, Glasgow Royal Inrmary
Ms Irene Crawford Senior Chief Cardiac Physiologist,
Golden Jubilee Hospital, Glasgow
Dr Malcolm Daniel Consultant Anaesthetist, Glasgow Royal Inrmary
Mrs Frances Divers Cardiac Nurse Specialist, St John’s Hospital, Livingston
Dr Frank Dunn Consultant Cardiologist, Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow
Ms Karen Fletcher CHD and Stroke Prevention Coordinator,
Angus CHP, Forfar
Professor Kim Fox Professor of Cardiology, Royal Brompton Hospital, London
Dr John Gillies General Practitioner, The Health Centre, Selkirk
Dr Grant Haldane Consultant Anaesthetist, Hairmyres Hospital, East Kilbride
Mr Martin Hayes Senior Chief Cardiac Physiologist,
Western General Hospital, Edinburgh
Dr Graham Hilditch Consultant Anaesthetist,
Gartnavel General Hospital, Glasgow
Dr Graham Hillis Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Cardiologist,
Aberdeen Royal Hospitals NHS Trust
Dr Harpreet Kohli Head of Health Services Research and Development,
NHS Quality Improvement Scotland, Glasgow
Dr Sandy Kopyto Principal Clinical Pharmacist, Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy
Professor Chim Lang Professor of Cardiology,
Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee
Ms Lynne MacBeth Senior Chief Cardiac Physiologist, Aberdeen Royal Inrmary
Dr Malcolm Metcalfe Consultant Cardiologist, Aberdeeen Royal Inrmary
Dr Stewart Milne Consultant Anaesthetist, Glasgow Royal Inrmary
Professor David Newby British Heart Foundation Reader and Consultant Cardiologist,
University of Edinburgh
Dr Alistair Nimmo Consultant Anaesthetist, Royal Inrmary of Edinburgh
Mr David Paul Lay Reviewer, Glasgow
Professor Stuart Pringle Consultant Cardiologist,
Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee
Ms Fiona Reid Pharmacist, NHS Lothian
Dr Karen Smith Clinical Research Fellow (Cardiac Nursing),
Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee
Professor David Taggart Cardiac Surgeon, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford
Mrs Audrey Thompson Senior Medicines Management Adviser,
Gartnavel Royal Hospital, Glasgow
Dr Stephen Walton Consultant Cardiologist, Aberdeen Royal Inrmary
Dr Alex Watson General Practitioner, West Gate Health Centre, Dundee
As a nal quality control check, the guideline is reviewed by an editorial group comprising
members of SIGN Council to ensure that the specialist reviewers’ comments have been addressed
adequately and that any risk of bias in the guideline development process as a whole has been
minimised. The editorial group for this guideline was as follows:
Dr David Alexander Member of SIGN Council
Dr Keith Brown Member of SIGN Council
Professor Hilary Capell Member of SIGN Council
Mr Robert Carachi Member of SIGN Council
Dr Kevin Jennings Co-chair SIGN CHD Steering Group and Consultant Cardiologist,
Aberdeen Royal Inrmary
Dr John Kinsella Member of SIGN Council
Professor Gordon Lowe Chair of SIGN; Co-Editor
Ms Anne Matthew Member of SIGN Council
Mr Chris Oliver Member of SIGN Council
Dr Saa Qureshi SIGN Programme Director; Co-Editor
Professor Lewis Ritchie Co-chair SIGN CHD Steering Group and Mackenzie Professor
of General Practice, University of Aberdeen
Dr Sara Twaddle Director of SIGN; Co-Editor
SIGN is grateful to the following former members of the guideline development group and
others who have contributed to the development of this guideline.
Ms Jenni Brockie Information Ofcer, SIGN Executive
Mr Iain Lowis Head of Community Fundraising,
British Heart Foundation, Edinburgh
Dr Olivia Wu Systematic Reviewer, Glasgow University
ACC American College of Cardiology
ACE angiotensin converting enzyme
ACS acute coronary syndrome
ADP adenosine diphosphate
AHA American Heart Association
ARB angiotensin receptor blocker
ARR absolute risk reduction
AT anaerobic threshold
AV atrioventricular
BARI Bypass Angioplasty Revascularization Investigation trial
BMI body mass index
BNF British National Formulary
CABG coronary artery bypass grafting
CASS Coronary Artery Surgery Study
CCB calcium channel blocker
CCS Canadian Cardiovascular Society
CHD coronary heart disease
CI condence interval
CT computed tomography
CVD cardiovascular disease
Cx circumex
DECREASE Dutch Echocardiographic Cardiac Risk Evaluation Applying Stress
Echocardiography trial
DVD double vessel coronary artery disease
ECG electrocardiogram
EECP enhanced external counterpulsation
ETT exercise tolerance test
EUROPA EURopean trial On reduction of cardiac events with Perindopril in
stable coronary Artery disease trial
GP general practitioner
HAD Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale
HOPE Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation trial
IABP intra aortic balloon pump
IMA internal mammary artery
ISD Information and Statistics Division
ITU intensive care unit
LAD left anterior descending
LMS left main stem
LV left ventricular
LVEF left ventricular ejection fraction
LVSD left ventricular systolic dysfunction
MASTER Multicentre Australian Study of Epidural Anaesthesia trial
MET metabolic equivalent of task
MI myocardial infarction
MPS myocardial perfusion scintigraphy
MRI magnetic resonance imaging
MTA multiple technology assessment
NICE National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
NNT number needed to treat
NYHA New York Heart Association
OR odds ratio
PEACE Prevention of Events with Angiotensin Converting Enzyme inhibition trial
PCI percutaneous coronary intervention
PTCA percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty
QOF quality outcomes framework
QoL quality of life
QUIET QUinapril Ischemic Event Trial
RACPC rapid access chest pain clinic
RCA right coronary arteries
RCRI revised cardiac risk index
RCT randomised controlled trial
RD risk difference
RR relative risk
SHIP Southampton Heart Integrated care Project trial
SIGN Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network
SMC Scottish Medicines Consortium
SVD single vessel coronary artery disease
SVG saphenous vein grafts
SVT supraventricular tachycardia
TAR total arterial revascularisation
TENS transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator
TMR transmyocardial revascularisation
TVD triple vessel coronary artery disease
UKCSR UK Cardiac Surgical Register
VO2 max maximum oxygen consumption
VTE venous thromboembolism
1 British Heart Foundation: prevalence rates and
morbidity. [cited 13 Aug 2005] Available from url
2 National Centre for Social Research. Joint Surveys
Unit. University College London. Department of
Epidemiology and Public Health. The Scottish
Health Survey 1998: volume 1. Edinburgh; Scottish
Executive Health Department: 2000. [cited 6 Oct
2006] available from url:
3 Lampe FC, Morris RW, Walker M, Shaper AG,
Whincup PH. Trends in rates of different forms of
diagnosed coronary heart disease, 1978 to 2000:
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