ORLANDO – Treating patients who developed myocardial injury after noncardiac surgery with the anticoagulant dabigatran significantly cut the rate of subsequent major vascular complications in a randomized, multicenter trial with 1,754 patients, a result that gives surgeons and physicians the first evidence-based intervention for treating a common postsurgical condition.
“Because we have not systematically followed noncardiac surgery patients, it’s easy to presume that everyone is okay, but all the epidemiology data show that these patients [who develop myocardial injury after noncardiac surgery] don’t do okay. We need to be aggressive with secondary prophylaxis,” P.J. Devereaux, MD, said at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology. “The unfortunate thing is that right now, we don’t do much for these patients,” said Dr. Devereaux, professor of medicine and director of cardiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont.
Results from prior epidemiology studies have shown that, among the roughly 200 million patients who undergo noncardiac surgery worldwide each year, 8% will develop MINS (myocardial injury after noncardiac surgery) (Anesthesiology. 2014 March;120:564-78). The myocardial injury that defines MINS is identified by either an overt MI that meets the universal definition, or an otherwise unexplained rise in serum troponin levels from baseline in the first couple of days after surgery. In the new study, Dr. Devereaux and his associates identified 80% of MINS by a troponin rise and 20% by a diagnosed MI.
The challenge in diagnosing MINS and then administering dabigatran will be implementation of this strategy into routine practice, commented Erin A. Bohula May, MD, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “The problem is, troponin is not routinely measured in postoperative patients. It will be hard to change practice,” she noted.