What is included in patient education about acute coronary syndrome (ACS)?

Updated: Sep 30, 2020
  • Author: David L Coven, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Eric H Yang, MD  more...
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Patient education of risk factors is important, but more attention is needed regarding delays in door-to-balloon time, and one major barrier to improving this delay is patient education regarding his or her symptoms. Lack of recognition of symptoms may cause tremendous delays in seeking medical attention.

Educate patients about the dangers of cigarette smoking, a major risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD). The risk of recurrent coronary events decreases 50% at 1 year after smoking cessation. Provide all patients who smoke with guidance, education, and support to avoid smoking. Smoking-cessation classes should be offered to help patients avoid smoking after a myocardial infarction. Bupropion increases the likelihood of successful smoking cessation.

Diet plays an important role in the development of CAD. Therefore, prior to hospital discharge, a patient who has had a myocardial infarction should be evaluated by a dietitian. Patients should be informed about the benefits of a low-cholesterol, low-salt diet. In addition, educate patients about AHA dietary guidelines regarding a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet.

A cardiac rehabilitation program after discharge may reinforce education and enhance compliance.

The following mnemonic may useful in educating patients with CAD regarding treatments and lifestyle changes necessitated by their condition:

  • A = Aspirin and antianginals

  • B = Beta blockers and blood pressure (BP)

  • C = Cholesterol and cigarettes

  • D = Diet and diabetes

  • E = Exercise and education

For patients being discharged home, emphasize the following:

  • Timely follow-up with primary care provider

  • Compliance with discharge medications, specifically aspirin and other medications used to control symptoms

  • Need to return to the ED for any change in frequency or severity of symptoms

For patient education resources, see the Heart Health Center and Cholesterol Center, as well as High Cholesterol, Cholesterol Charts (What the Numbers Mean), High Cholesterol Management, Chest Pain, Coronary Heart Disease, Heart Attack, Angina Pectoris, Cholesterol-Lowering Medications, and Statins (Cholesterol Drugs).

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