FROM the Journal of the American College of Cardiology

New appropriate use criteria (AUC) for severe aortic stenosis (AS) run the full gamut of clinical scenarios and treatment options.

“Cardiology is seeing a radical change in the management of aortic stenosis. This new document incorporates all therapies currently available in the world,” said Vinod H. Thourani, MD , who served on the AUC’s writing group on behalf of the American College of Cardiology. “The AUC highlights state-of-the-art therapy for aortic stenosis and, even more importantly, helps clarify the right indications for surgical and transcatheter valve replacement.”

Ten other societies coauthored the AUC, which lists and gauges treatment options for 95 clinical scenarios based on symptoms, ejection fraction, surgical risk, anatomic features, and comorbidities (J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017 Oct 17. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2017.09.018 ). “We directed patients into categories of low, high, and intermediate risk that are disease specific and comorbidity specific, so the AUC differentiates valve therapies based on comorbidities and risk scores,” said Dr. Thourani, who is chairman of the department of cardiac surgery at MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute, which includes Union Memorial Hospital, Baltimore, and MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

Surgical risk is assessed based on the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Predicted Risk of Mortality score plus additional anatomic and functional considerations that should be assessed by a multidisciplinary heart team. The AUC repeatedly emphasizes this team’s importance. “Multiple comorbidities can change the pathway of treating AS, and this determination is best made by a heart team that at least includes a noninvasive cardiologist, an interventional cardiologist, and a cardiac surgeon,” Dr. Thourani said. “That’s how patients get the best care.”

Historically, aortic stenosis typically was managed medically or with balloon aortic valvuloplasty (BAV) or open aortic valve replacement, Dr. Thourani said. However, BAV is less common now, and indications for surgical or transcatheter aortic valve replacement (SAVR or TAVR) are expanding. Balloon aortic valvuloplasty sometimes does provide palliative treatment or serve as a bridge to a decision, the AUC states. For example, for a high-risk patient with severe aortic stenosis and severe secondary mitral regurgitation, BAV can help the heart team decide whether TAVR alone will improve mitral regurgitation or whether a double valve procedure is preferable.

Regardless of risk score, the AUC considers a wait-and-see approach as potentially appropriate for patients with asymptomatic high-grade AS whose left ventricular ejection fraction is at least 50%, peak aortic valve velocity is 4.0-4.9 m/sec, and exercise stress test is normal and with no predictors of symptom onset or rapid progression. Asymptomatic patients who are likely to become symptomatic but who have a low risk of sudden death are candidates for intervention (rated “appropriate”) or medical management (“may be appropriate”). In contrast, a positive stress test in an otherwise asymptomatic patient merits consideration of SAVR or TAVR regardless of surgical risk. The recommendations for asymptomatic patients reflect a lack of head-to-head trials in this population, Dr. Thourani said. “We don’t have good randomized data to show one therapy is better than another.”

Symptomatic, high-gradient, severe AS with associated coronary artery disease merits consideration of SAVR with coronary artery bypass graft or, in some cases, TAVR with percutaneous coronary intervention, according to the AUC. Less evidence supports SAVR with PCI. “Optimal management of coronary artery disease in patients with AS is a complex decision process requiring clinical, anatomical, and technical considerations that is best achieved with close collaboration between heart team members,” the authors stress.

The document covers other valvular and structural heart conditions that commonly accompany severe AS, such as symptomatic AS with bicuspid aortic valve and ascending aortic dilation. “Although there remains an increasing prevalence of transcatheter valve usage in bicuspid aortic valve, the standard of care remains surgical therapy, especially in patients who have a dilated aorta,” Dr. Thourani said.

For the first time, the AUC also addresses failing aortic valve prostheses, presenting six relevant clinical scenarios. The AUC consistently recommends SAVR, although the use of TAVR has “dramatically increased” in these patients, Dr. Thourani said. “Long-term data are still pending, but TAVR appears to be a less morbid procedure, when done appropriately.”

The societies involved in creating the AUC statement were the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, American Heart Association, American Society of Echocardiography, European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, Heart Valve Society, Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography, Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance, and Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

Dr. Thourani disclosed ties to Edwards Lifesciences, St. Jude Medical, Abbott, Boston Scientific, and Medtronic.


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