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Comparison between National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and European Society of Cardiology (ESC) guidelines for the diagnosis and management of stable angina: implications for clinical practice
  1. R Andrew Archbold
  1. Department of General & Interventional Cardiology, Barts Health NHS Trust, St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Andrew Archbold; Andrew.Archbold2{at}


Cardiologists in the UK use clinical practice guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and from the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) to aid clinical decision-making. This review compares their recommendations regarding stable angina. NICE's diagnostic algorithm changed clinical practice in the UK, with most cardiologists moving from the exercise ECG towards newer, more accurate imaging modalities such as CT and MRI for diagnostic testing in patients with a low or medium probability of coronary artery disease (CAD), and directly to invasive coronary angiography in patients with a high probability of CAD. ESC guidelines are based around stress imaging for most patient groups. Both guidelines stress the importance of optimal medical therapy for patients with stable angina. NICE recommends coronary artery bypass graft surgery to improve prognosis for patients with left main stem and/or proximal 3-vessel disease, whereas the ESC also includes proximal left anterior descending artery disease among its indications for revascularisation to improve prognosis, particularly if there is evidence of myocardial ischaemia. The relation between disease complexity and 5-year clinical outcomes after revascularisation in patients with left main stem and/or 3-vessel CAD has been integrated into ESC guidance through the use of the SYNTAX score to aid treatment selection in this group of patients. Patients with stable angina who have disease involving the proximal left anterior descending artery are less likely to undergo myocardial revascularisation if they are managed according to NICE's guidance compared with the ESC's guidance.


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