The new European Society of Cardiology guidelines on myocardial revascularisation: An appraisal
The latest European Society of Cardiology (ESC) guidelines on myocardial revascularisation are reviewed. The nearly 300 recommendations make it difficult to apply them in their totality. The authors would propose 20-30 recommendations per guideline based on sound clinical evidence. Also, the scope of the current guidelines is very wide as it includes topics already incorporated in other guidelines, such as strategies for pre-intervention diagnosis and imaging as well as on secondary prevention. Some recommendations in the new guidelines are sensible and will not be disputed. In particular, the encouragement of a balanced multidisciplinary decision process (the 'heart team') is welcome. Although coronary revascularisation in unstable high risk patients is well accepted, this is less the case for the low risk patient with chest pain. This issue is controversial and a balanced discussion of the pros and cons of percutaneous coronary intervention is missing. Despite convincing evidence indicating lack of benefit of percutaneous coronary intervention for chronic total occlusion, this procedure is not discouraged. Lastly, most committee members were interventional cardiologists or cardiac surgeons. Guideline committees should be representative of the whole group of professionals as the interpretation of the evidence by specialists may be biased. There may be a role for procedure oriented guidelines but, in that case, the items at issue should remain confined to matters directly related to technical aspects of the procedure.