Eight challenges faced by general practitioners caring for patients after an acute coronary syndrome

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    The general practitioner is essential in the management of the patient who has recently been discharged from hospital following an acute coronary syndrome (ACS), particularly as duration of hospital stay is shorter than in previous decades. GPs caring for patients after an ACS face numerous challenges. Often, the first of these is insufficient or delayed documentation from the discharging hospital, although electronic discharge summaries are alleviating this problem. Post-ACS patients often have comorbidities, and GPs play a key role in managing these. Patients taking dual antiplatelet therapy who need surgery, and post-ACS patients with atrial fibrillation, require particular care from GPs. Patients will often approach their GP for advice on the safety of other drugs, such as smoking cessation medication, and phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors for erectile dysfunction. For patients complaining of persistent lethargy after an ACS, GPs must consider several differential diagnoses, including depression, hypotension, hypovolaemia, and side effects of β-blockers. GPs play an important ongoing role in ensuring that target cholesterol levels are reached with statin therapy; this includes ensuring long-term adherence. They may also need to advise patients who want to stop statin therapy, usually due to perceived side effects. Many of these challenges can be met with improved and respectful communication between the hospital, the treating cardiologist and the GP. The patient needs to be closely involved in the decision-making process, particularly when balancing the risks of bleeding versus thrombosis.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)S110-S114
    JournalMedical Journal of Australia
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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