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Risk Stratification and Prognostic Factors in the Post-Myocardial Infarction Patient

      Among the 5 million patients presenting to emergency departments with chest pain each year in the United States, approximately 1 million are diagnosed with myocardial infarction (MI). Physicians have the difficult task of making decisions regarding admission and treatment and identifying patients at high risk for adverse outcomes, such as early mortality, left ventricular dysfunction (LVD), and heart failure. Several measures can be implemented in the process of risk assessment, including clinical judgment, electrocardiographic and echocardiographic findings, and the presence of biomarkers. Biomarkers—which can be classified as antecedent, screening, diagnostic, staging, or prognostic—may help identify the subset of patients who need early intervention and/or intensive therapy. Using a multimarker strategy that combines a marker of hemodynamic stress (brain natriuretic peptide) or of inflammation (C-reactive protein) with a marker of necrosis (cardiac troponin) may help to risk-stratify patients, guide treatment, and optimize admission and discharge decisions. This article discusses the potential benefits of risk assessment tools in the management of post-MI patients with LVD.
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