Chest pain medical therapy
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A correct diagnosis of the underlying cause of the chest pain is necessrary prior to deciding on an appropriate treatment strategy. The most dangerous causes should be evaluated first. If myocardial infarction or ischemia is suspected, the immediate pharmacotherapies including morphine, oxygen, nitrate, aspirin, ACE inhibitors.
General Strategies for the Management of Acute Chest Pain
- Obtaining a thorough patient history is often the most valuable tool in coming to a diagnosis. In angina pectoris, for example, blood tests and other analyses are not sufficient to make a diagnosis (Chun & McGee 2004).
- The physician's typical approach is to rule out the most dangerous causes of chest pain first (e.g., myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism). By sequential elimination or confirmation from the most serious to the least serious cases, a diagnosis of the origin of the pain is eventually made. Emergency reperfusion therapy either by percutaneous coronary intervention or thrombolytic agents is recommended after diagnosis.
- Often, no definite cause will be found, and the focus in these cases is on excluding severe conditions and reassuring the patient
- Special attention should be paid to airway, breathing, and circulation. Supplemental O2 should be administered to patients with suspected coronary artery disease.
- Once it's ensured that the patient has stable vitals, then a detailed history, physical examination, and laboratory tests are required to obtain a diagnosis. Special attention should be paid to risk factors and the nature of the patient's pain.
- ECG, cardiac marker, blood test and chest x rays are initial primary tests done.
- Nitroglycerine and proton pump inhibitors are usually the initial treatment given. However, caution should be taken by the physician in diagnosis based on response to theses therapies as relief of pain on antacids doesn't exclude ischemic heart diseases.
- Treat all underlying etiologies as clinically indicated;
Acute coronary syndrome
- If acute coronary syndrome (e.g. unstable angina) is suspected, many patients are admitted briefly for observation, sequential ECGs, and serial enzymes (CK-MB, troponin or myoglobin). On occasion, later out-patient testing may be necessary to follow-up and make a better determination on the specific cause and the appropriate therapy.
- For patients with coronary artery disease, recommended pharmacotherapy include; Aspirin, Nitroglycerin, Morphine (if necessary)
- For patients with myocardial infarction pharmacotherapy include Antiplatelete, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, statins, anticoagulant, Thrombolytic therapy, Glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors.
- Recommendations regarding the minimum length of stay in a monitored bed for a patient who has no further symptoms have decreased in recent years to 12 h or less.
- If a diagnosis of pulmonary embolism is suspected, a CT pulmonary angiogram (CTPA) should be performed for confirmation. A VQ scan can also be used, however, this test is not as accurate.
- Hemodynamically stable patients should be placed on anticoagulants while hemodynamically unstable patients require immediate thrombolysis.
- Suspected cardiac tamponade is diagnosed via bedside ultrasound. A pericardial window or needle pericardiotomy is therapeutic.
- Aortic dissection is almost always a surgical emergency.
- The best test for diagnosis is CT angiography.
- Aggressive controlling of hypertension is necessary and beta-blocker therapy is warranted to avert reflux tachycardia.
Gastresophageal reflux disease
- It is important to differentiate between acute coronary syndrome and GERD in a patient presenting with burning chest pain.
- Proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers are the first-line recommended treatments for GERD.
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