Acute and subacute triggers of cardiovascular events


Aurora Cardiovascular Services, Aurora Sinai/Aurora St. Luke's Medical Centers


Inability to predict short-term cardiovascular (CV) events and take immediate preemptive actions has long been the Achilles heel of cardiology. However, certain triggers of these events have come to light. Although these triggers are nonspecific and are part of normal life, studying their temporal relationship with the onset of CV events provides an opportunity to alert high-risk atherosclerotic patients who may be most vulnerable to such triggers, the "vulnerable patient". Herein, we review the literature and shed light on the epidemiology and underlying pathophysiology of different triggers. We describe that certain adrenergic triggers can precipitate a CV event within minutes or hours; whereas triggers that elicit an immune or inflammatory response such as infections may tip an asymptomatic "vulnerable patient" to become symptomatic days and weeks later. In conclusion, healthcare providers should counsel high-risk CV patients (e.g., in secondary prevention clinics or those with coronary artery Calcium >75th percentile) on the topic, advise them to avoid such triggers, take protective measures once exposed, and seek emergency care immediately after becoming symptomatic after such triggers. Furthermore, clinical trials targeting triggers (prevention or intervention) are needed.

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