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October 22, 2008
We compared the rates of cardiac catheterization in 2136 non–ST-segment elevation acute coronary syndrome patients who were stratified according to their baseline thrombolysis in myocardial infarction (TIMI) risk score. Higher-risk patients were referred for catheterization at a similar rate as low-risk patients. The main reasons why physicians did not make referrals included (1) clinical trial evidence did not support an early invasive approach and (2) 68% of patients were thought not to be at high enough risk; however, 59% of these patients were found to be higher risk when their baseline TIMI risk scores were recalculated. Patients who were referred for catheterization had better in-hospital and 1-year outcomes. Our findings indicate that a significant opportunity remains to improve upon accurate risk stratification and adherence to an early invasive strategy for higher-risk patients.
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