Skip to Content

Drugs for Acute Coronary Syndromes


Ranya N. Sweis

, MD, MS, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine;

Arif Jivan

, MD, PhD, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Last full review/revision Jul 2020| Content last modified Jul 2020

Treatment of acute coronary syndromes (ACS) is designed to relieve distress, interrupt thrombosis, reverse ischemia, limit infarct size, reduce cardiac workload, and prevent and treat complications. An ACS is a medical emergency; outcome is greatly influenced by rapid diagnosis and treatment. Treatment occurs simultaneously with diagnosis. Treatment includes revascularization (with percutaneous coronary intervention, coronary artery bypass grafting, or fibrinolytic therapy) and drug therapy to treat ACS and underlying coronary artery disease.

Drugs used depend on the type of ACS and include

  • Aspirin, clopidogrel, or both (prasugrel or ticagrelor are alternatives to clopidogrel if fibrinolytic therapy has not been given)
  • Beta-blocker
  • Glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitor considered for certain patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) and high risk lesions (eg, high thrombus burden, no reflow)
  • A heparin (unfractionated or low molecular weight heparin) or bivalirudin (particularly in ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction [STEMI] patients at high risk of bleeding)
  • IV nitroglycerin (unless low-risk, uncomplicated myocardial infarction)
  • Fibrinolytics for select patients with STEMI when timely PCI unavailable
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor (as early as possible)
  • Statins

Antiplatelet and antithrombotic drugs, which stop clots from forming, are used routinely. Anti-ischemic drugs (eg, beta-blockers, IV nitroglycerin) are frequently added, particularly when chest pain or hypertension is present (see table Drugs for Coronary Artery Disease).

Fibrinolyticsshould be used if not contraindicated for STEMI if primary PCI is not immediately available but worsen outcome for unstable angina and non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI).

Chest pain can be treated with nitroglycerin or sometimes morphine. Nitroglycerin is preferable to morphine, which should be used judiciously (eg if a patient has a contraindication to nitroglycerin or is in pain despite nitroglycerin therapy). Nitroglycerin is initially given sublingually, followed by continuous IV drip if needed. Morphine 2 to 4 mg IV, repeated every 15 minutes as needed, is highly effective but can depress respiration, can reduce myocardial contractility, and is a potent venous vasodilator. Evidence also suggests that morphine interferes with some P2Y12 receptor inhibitors. A large retrospective trial showed that morphine may increase mortality in patients with acute myocardial infarction (1, 2). Hypotension and bradycardia secondary to morphine can usually be overcome by prompt elevation of the lower extremities.

Blood pressure (BP) is normal or slightly elevated in most patients on arrival at the emergency department; BP gradually falls over the next several hours. Continued hypertension requires treatment with antihypertensives, preferably IV nitroglycerin, to lower BP and reduce cardiac workload. Severe hypotension or other signs of shock are ominous and must be treated aggressively with IV fluids and sometimes vasopressors.

Drugs for Coronary Artery Disease*




Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors












All patients with CAD, especially those with large infarctions, renal insufficiency, heart failure, hypertension, or diabetes

Contraindications include hypotension, hyperkalemia, bilateral renal artery stenosis, pregnancy, and known allergy

Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)









An effective alternative for patients who cannot tolerate ACE inhibitors (eg, because of cough); currently, not first-line treatment after MI

Contraindications include hypotension, hyperkalemia, bilateral renal artery stenosis, pregnancy, and known allergy



350 mcg/kg (IV bolus) followed by 25 mcg/kg/minute (IV infusion)

As an alternative to heparin in patients with ACS and a known or suspected history of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia




2.5 mg subcutaneously every 24 hours


5 mg orally twice a day

May be useful long-term in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation


150 mg orally twice a day (or 110–150 mg orally twice a day for patients also taking P2Y12 inhibitors)


20 mg orally once a day (or 15 mg orally once a day for patients also taking P2Y12 inhibitors)

Low molecular weight heparins:

  • Dalteparin
  • Enoxaparin‡
  • Tinzaparin


Patients with unstable angina or NSTEMI

Patients < 75 years receiving tenecteplase

Almost all patients with STEMI as an alternative to unfractionated heparin (unless PCI is indicated and can be done in < 90 minutes); drug continued until PCI or CABG is done or patient is discharged

Unfractionated heparin

60–70 units/kg IV (maximum, 5000 units; bolus), followed by 12–15 units/kg/hour (maximum, 1000 units/hour) for 48 hours or until PCI is complete

Patients with unstable angina or NSTEMI as an alternative to enoxaparin

60 units/kg IV (maximum, 4000 units; bolus) given when alteplase, reteplase, or tenecteplase is started, then followed by 12 units/kg/hour (maximum, 1000 units/hour) for 48 hours or until PCI is complete

Patients who have STEMI and undergo urgent angiography and PCI or patients > 75 years receiving tenecteplase


Oral dose adjusted to maintain INR of 2.5–3.5

Recommended for primary prevention in patients at high risk of systemic emboli (ie, with atrial fibrillation, mechanical heart valves, venous thromboembolism, hypercoagulable disorders, or LV thrombus)

May be useful for primary prevention in patients with STEMI and anterior wall akinesis or dyskinesis if risk of bleeding is low

Reasonable for patients with asymptomatic mural thrombus

Antiplatelet drugs


For stable angina†: 75 or 81 mg orally once a day (enteric-coated)

All patients with CAD or at high risk of developing CAD, unless aspirin is not tolerated or is contraindicated; used long-term

For ACS: 160–325 mg orally chewed (not enteric-coated) on arrival at emergency department and once a day thereafter during hospitalization and 81 mg† orally once a day long-term after discharge


75 mg orally once a day

Used with aspirin or, in patients who cannot tolerate aspirin, alone

For patients undergoing PCI: 300–600 mg orally once, then 75 mg orally once a day for 1–12 months

For elective PCI, maintenance therapy required for at least 1 month for bare-metal stents and for at least 6–12 months for drug-eluting stents

For ACS, dual antiplatelet therapy (typically with aspirin) is recommended for at least 12 months (for any type of stent)


60 mg orally once, followed by 10 mg orally once a day for 1–12 months

Only for patients with ACS undergoing PCI

Not used in combination with fibrinolytic therapy


For patients undergoing PCI: 180 mg orally once before the procedure, followed by 90 mg orally twice a day for 1–12 months


250 mg orally twice a day for 1–12 months

Rarely used routinely because neutropenia is a risk and white blood cell count must be monitored regularly

Glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors



Some patients with ACS, particularly those who are having PCI with stent placement and high-risk patients with unstable angina or NSTEMI and large thrombus burden

Therapy started during PCI and continued for 6–24 hours thereafter







50 mg orally every 12 hours acutely; 50–100 mg orally twice a day long-term

All patients with ACS, unless a beta-blocker is not tolerated or is contraindicated, especially high-risk patients; used long-term

Intravenous beta-blockers may be used in patients with ongoing chest pain despite usual measures, or persistent tachycardia, or hypertension in patients with unstable angina and myocardial infarction. Caution is necessary in patients with hypotension or other evidence of hemodynamic instability.


2.5–5 mg orally once a day, increasing to 10–15 mg once a day depending on heart rate and BP response


25 mg orally twice a day (in patients with heart failure or other hemodynamic instability, the starting dose should be as low as 1.625–3.125 mg twice a day and increased very slowly as tolerated)


25–50 mg orally every 6 hours continued for 48 hours; then 100 mg twice a day or 200 mg once a day given long term

Calcium channel blockers


5–10 mg orally once a day

Patients with stable angina if symptoms persist despite nitrates use or if nitrates are not tolerated

Diltiazem (extended-release)

180–360 orally once a day


2.5–10 mg orally once a day

Nifedipine (extended-release)

30–90 mg orally once a day

Verapamil (extended-release)

120–360 mg orally once a day









Patients with CAD should be given maximally tolerated statin dose

Nitrates: Short acting

Sublingual nitroglycerin (tablet or spray)

0.3–0.6 mg every 4–5 minutes up to 3 doses

All patients for immediate relief of chest pain; used as needed

Nitroglycerin as continuous IV drip

Started at 5 mcg/minute and increased 2.5–5.0 mcg every few minutes until required response occurs

Selected patients with ACS:

During the first 24 to 48 hours, those with heart failure (unless hypotension is present), large anterior myocardial infarction, persistent angina, or hypertension (BP is reduced by 10–20 mm Hg but not to < 80–90 mm Hg systolic)

For longer use, those with recurrent angina or persistent pulmonary congestion

Nitrates: Long acting

Isosorbide dinitrate

10–20 mg orally 3 times a day; can be increased to 40 mg 3 times a day

Patients who have unstable angina or persistent severe angina and continue to have anginal symptoms after the beta-blocker dose is maximized

A nitrate-free period of about 8–10 hours (typically at night) recommended to avoid tolerance (specific drugs require different durations of nitrate-free period)

Isosorbide dinitrate (sustained-release)

40–80 mg orally twice a day (typically given at 8 AM and 2 PM)

Isosorbide mononitrate

20 mg orally twice a day, with 7 hours between 1st and 2nd doses

Isosorbide mononitrate (sustained-release)

30 or 60 mg once a day, increased to 120 mg or, rarely, 240 mg

Nitroglycerin patches

0.2–0.8 mg/hour applied between 6:00 and 9:00 AM and removed 12–14 hours later to avoid tolerance

Nitroglycerin ointment 2% preparation (15 mg/2.5 cm)

1.25 cm spread evenly over upper torso or arms every 6 to 8 hours and covered with plastic, increased to 7.5 cm as tolerated, and removed for 8–12 hours each day to avoid tolerance



2–4 mg IV, repeated as needed

Morphine should be used judiciously (eg, if nitroglycerin is contraindicated or if patient has symptoms despite maximal doses of nitroglycerin) given a possible increase in mortality as well as attenuation of P2Y12 receptor inhibitor activity

PCSK-9 inhibitors


Initial dose: 75 mg subcutaneously, once every 2 weeks or 300 mg subcutaneously once every 4 weeks

For patients not at target LDL-C levels, used alone or in combination with other lipid-lowering therapies (eg, statins, ezetimibe) for the treatment of adults with primary hyperlipidemia (including familial hypercholesterolemia)


Initial dose for primary hyperlipidemia: 140 mg subcutaneously every 2 weeks or 420 mg subcutaneously once monthly

For patients not at target LDL-C levels, used alone or in combination with other lipid-lowering therapies (eg, statins, ezetimibe) for the treatment of adults with primary hyperlipidemia (including familial hypercholesterolemia)









Patients with CAD should be given maximally tolerated statin dose

Other drugs


5 mg orally twice a day, increased to 7.5 mg orally twice a day if needed

Inhibits sinus node

For symptomatic treatment of chronic stable angina pectoris in patients with normal sinus rhythm who cannot take beta-blockers

In combination with beta-blockers in patients inadequately controlled by beta-blocker alone and whose heart rate > 60 beats/minute


500 mg orally twice a day, increased to 1000 mg orally twice a day as needed

Patients in whom anginal symptoms continue despite treatment with other antianginal drugs

* Clinicians may use different combinations of drugs depending on the type of coronary artery disease that is present.

† Higher doses of aspirin do not provide greater protection and increase risk of adverse effects.

‡ Of low molecular weight heparins (LMWHs), enoxaparin is preferred.

ACS = acute coronary syndromes; BP = blood pressure; CABG = coronary artery bypass grafting; CAD = coronary artery disease; INR = international normalized ratio; LDL-C = low-density lipoprotein cholesterol; LV = left ventricular; MI = myocardial infarction; NSTEMI = non–ST-segment elevation MI; PCI = percutaneous intervention; STEMI = ST-segment elevation MI.


  • 1. Meine TJ, Roe MT, Chen AY, et al: Association of intravenous morphine use and outcomes in acute coronary syndromes: results from the CRUSADE Quality Improvement Initiative. Am Heart J 149(6):1043-1049, 2005. doi 10.1016/j.ahj.2005.02.010
  • 2. Kubica J, Adamski P, Ostrowska M, et al: Morphine delays and attenuates ticagrelor exposure and action in patients with myocardial infarction: the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled IMPRESSION trial. Eur Heart J 37(3):245–252, 2016. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehv547

Antiplatelet Drugs

Aspirin, clopidogrel, prasugrel, ticagrelor, ticlopidine, and glycoprotein (GP) IIb/IIIa inhibitors are examples of antiplatelet drugs. All patients are given aspirin 160 to 325 mg (not enteric-coated), if not contraindicated (eg, life-threatening active bleeding), at presentation and 81 mg once a day indefinitely thereafter. Chewing the first dose before swallowing quickens absorption. Aspirin reduces short- and long-term mortality risk (1).

If aspirin cannot be taken, clopidogrel 75 mg orally once a day or ticlopidine 250 mg orally twice a day may be used. Clopidogrel has largely replaced ticlopidine for routine use because neutropenia is a risk with ticlopidine and the white blood cell count must be monitored regularly.

Patients not undergoing revascularization

Patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) in whom intervention is not possible or recommended are given both aspirin and clopidogrel for at least 12 months. In general, the concern with dosage and duration of antiplatelet drugs is to balance the decreased risk of coronary thrombosis with the increased risk of bleeding.

Patients undergoing revascularization

In patients undergoing PCI, a loading dose of clopidogrel (300 to 600 mg orally once), prasugrel (60 mg orally once), or ticagrelor (180 mg orally once) improves outcomes.

Some clinicians give a GP IIb/IIIa inhibitor during PCI to all high-risk patients (eg, those with markedly elevated cardiac markers, a TIMI risk score ≥ 4, or persistent symptoms despite adequate drug therapy) with large thrombus burden. The GP IIb/IIIa inhibitor is continued for 6 to 24 hours, and angiography is done before the infusion period is over. GP IIb/IIIa inhibitors are not recommended for patients receiving fibrinolytics. Abciximab, tirofiban, and eptifibatide appear to have equivalent efficacy, and the choice of drug should depend on other factors (eg, cost, availability, familiarity).

For patients receiving a stent for revascularization, aspirin is continued indefinitely. Clopidogrel 75 mg orally once a day, prasugrel 10 mg orally once a day, or ticagrelor 90 mg orally twice a day should be used for at least 1 month in patients with a bare-metal stent. Patients with a drug-eluting stent have a prolonged risk of thrombosis and may benefit from 6 to 12 months of clopidogrel (or prasugrel or ticagrelor) treatment; the recommended treatment duration is still unclear.

Antiplatelet drug reference

  • 1. Levine GN, Bates ER, Bittl JA, et al: 2016 ACC/AHA Guideline focused update on duration of dual antiplatelet therapy in patients with coronary artery disease: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines: An Update of the 2011 ACCF/AHA/SCAI Guideline for Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, 2011 ACCF/AHA Guideline for Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery, 2012 ACC/AHA/ACP/AATS/PCNA/SCAI/STS Guideline for the Diagnosis and Management of Patients With Stable Ischemic Heart Disease, 2013 ACCF/AHA Guideline for the Management of ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction, 2014 AHA/ACC Guideline for the Management of Patients With Non-ST-Elevation Acute Coronary Syndromes, and 2014 ACC/AHA Guideline on Perioperative Cardiovascular Evaluation and Management of Patients Undergoing Noncardiac Surgery JACC 68 (10): 1082–115, 2016.

Anticoagulant Drugs

Either a low molecular weight heparin (LMWH), unfractionated heparin, or bivalirudin is given routinely to patients with acute coronary syndrome unless contraindicated (eg, by active bleeding or planned use of streptokinase or anistreplase). Choice of agent is somewhat involved.

Patients at high risk of systemic emboli (eg, atrial fibrillation with CHA2DS2VASc score ≥ 2) also require long-term therapy with an oral anticoagulant (eg, warfarin, dabigatran, apixaban, rivaroxaban). Conversion to oral anticoagulants should begin 48 hours after symptom resolution or PCI.

Unfractionated heparin

Unfractionated heparin is more complicated to use because it requires frequent (every 6 hours) dosing adjustments to achieve an activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT) 1.5 to 2 times the control value. In patients undergoing angiography, further dosing adjustment is done to achieve an activated clotting time (ACT) of 200 to 250 seconds if the patient is treated with a GP IIb/IIIa inhibitor and 250 to 300 seconds if a GP IIb/IIIa inhibitor is not being given. However, if bleeding develops after catheterization, the effects of unfractionated heparin are shorter and can be reversed (by promptly stopping the heparin infusion and giving protamine sulfate).

Low molecular weight heparin

The LMWHs have better bioavailability, are given by simple weight-based dose without monitoring aPTT and dose titration, and have lower risk of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. They also may produce an incremental benefit in outcomes relative to unfractionated heparin in patients with ACS. Of the LMWHs, enoxaparin appears to be superior to dalteparin or nadroparin. However, enoxaparin may pose a higher bleeding risk in patients with STEMI who are > 75, and its effects are not completely reversible with protamine.

Choice of heparin

Thus, taking all into account, many published guidelines recommend LMWH (eg, enoxaparin) over unfractionated heparin in patients with unstable angina or NSTEMI and in patients < age 75 with STEMI who are not undergoing PCI.

By contrast, unfractionated heparin is recommended when emergency PCI is done (eg, patients with acute STEMI who proceed to the catheterization laboratory), when CABG is indicated within the next 24 hours, and when patients are at high risk of bleeding complications (eg, history of GI bleeding within the last 6 months) or have creatinine clearance < 30 mL/minute. Ongoing studies should help clarify the choice between LMWH and unfractionated heparin.

For patients undergoing PCI, postprocedure heparin is no longer recommended unless patients are at high risk of thromboembolic events (eg, patients with large anterior MI, known LV thrombus, atrial fibrillation), because postprocedure ischemic events have decreased with the use of stents and antiplatelet drugs. For patients not undergoing PCI, heparin is continued for 48 hours (or longer if symptoms persist).

Heparin alternatives

The difficulties with the heparins (including bleeding complications, the possibility of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, and, with unfractionated heparin, the need for dosing adjustments) have led to the search for better anticoagulants.

The direct thrombin inhibitors, bivalirudin and argatroban, may have a lower incidence of serious bleeding and improved outcomes, particularly in patients with renal insufficiency (hirudin, another direct thrombin inhibitor, appears to cause more bleeding than the other drugs). The factor Xa inhibitor, fondaparinux, reduces mortality and reinfarction in patients with NSTEMI who undergo PCI without increasing bleeding but may result in worse outcomes than unfractionated heparin in patients with STEMI. Although routine use of these alternative anticoagulants is thus not currently recommended, they should be used in place of unfractionated heparin or LMWH in patients with a known or suspected history of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia.

Bivalirudin is an acceptable anticoagulant for patients undergoing primary PCI who are at high risk of bleeding and is recommended for those with a known or suspected history of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. For patients with unstable angina or NSTEMI, dose is an initial bolus of 0.1 mg/kg IV followed by a drip of 0.25 mg/kg/hour. For patients with STEMI, initial dose is 0.75 mg/kg IV followed by 1.75 mg/kg/hour.


These drugs are recommended unless contraindicated (eg, by bradycardia, heart block, hypotension, or asthma), especially for high-risk patients. Beta-blockers reduce heart rate, arterial pressure, and contractility, thereby reducing cardiac workload and oxygen demand. Infarct size largely determines cardiac performance after recovery. Oral beta-blockers given within the first few hours improve prognosis by reducing infarct size, recurrence rate, incidence of ventricular fibrillation, and mortality risk (1).

Heart rate and BP must be carefully monitored during treatment with beta-blockers. Dosage is reduced if bradycardia or hypotension develops. Excessive adverse effects may be reversed by infusion of the beta-adrenergic agonist isoproterenol 1 to 5 mcg/minute.

Beta-blocker reference

  • Chen ZM, Pan HC, Chen YP, et al. Early intravenous then oral metoprolol in 45,852 patients with acute myocardial infarction: randomised placebo controlled trial. Lancet 366:1622–1632, 2005.


A short-acting nitrate, nitroglycerin, is used to reduce cardiac workload in selected patients. Nitroglycerin dilates veins, arteries, and arterioles, reducing left ventricular preload and afterload. As a result, myocardial oxygen demand is reduced, lessening ischemia.

IV nitroglycerin is recommended during the first 24 to 48 hours for patients with heart failure, large anterior myocardial infarction, persistent chest discomfort, or hypertension. BP should not be reduced to < 110 to 120 mm Hg systolic; patients who remain symptomatic at that BP should have emergency PCI rather than further BP reduction.

Longer use may benefit patients with recurrent chest pain or persistent pulmonary congestion. In high-risk patients, nitroglycerin given in the first few hours reduces infarct size and short-term and possibly long-term mortality risk. Nitroglycerin is not routinely given to low-risk patients with uncomplicated myocardial infarction.


Tenecteplase (TNK), alteplase (rTPA), reteplase (rPA), streptokinase, and anistreplase (anisoylated plasminogen activator complex—APSAC), all given IV, are plasminogen activators. They convert single-chain plasminogen to double-chain plasminogen, which has fibrinolytic activity. They have different characteristics and dosing regimens (see table IV Fibrinolytic Drugs) and are appropriate only for selected patients with STEMI).

Tenecteplase and reteplase are recommended most often because of their simplicity of administration; tenecteplase is given as a single bolus over 5 seconds and reteplase as a double bolus 30 minutes apart. Administration time and drug errors are reduced compared with other fibrinolytics. Tenecteplase, like alteplase, has an intermediate risk of intracranial hemorrhage, has a higher rate of recanalization than other fibrinolytics, and is expensive. Reteplase has the highest risk of intracranial hemorrhage and a recanalization rate similar to that of tenecteplase, and it is expensive.

Streptokinase (currently not available in the US) may induce allergic reactions, especially if it has been used previously, and must be given by infusion over 30 to 60 minutes; however, it has a low incidence of intracerebral hemorrhage and is relatively inexpensive. Anistreplase, related to streptokinase, is similarly allergenic and slightly more expensive but can be given as a single bolus. Neither drug requires concomitant heparin use. For both, recanalization rate is lower than that with other plasminogen activators. Because of the possibility of allergic reactions, patients who previously received streptokinase or anistreplase are not given that drug again.

Alteplase is given in an accelerated or front-loaded dosage over 90 minutes. Alteplase with concomitant IV heparin improves patency, is nonallergenic, and has a higher recanalization rate than other fibrinolytics.

IV Fibrinolytic Drugs


Dosage (IV)

Circulating half-life (minutes)

Concurrent heparin

Allergic reactions


30 mg over 5 minutes





15 mg bolus, then 0.75 mg/kg over next 30 minutes (maximum 50 mg), followed by 0.50 mg/kg over 60 minutes (maximum 35 mg) for total dose of 100 mg





10 unit bolus over 2 minutes, repeated once after 30 minutes




Streptokinase (not available in the US)

1.5 ×106 U over 30–60 minutes





Weight-adjusted single bolus over 5 seconds:

< 60 kg: 30 mg

60–69 kg: 35 mg

70–79 kg: 40 mg

80–89 kg: 45 mg

≥ 90 kg: 50 mg

Initial half-life of 20–24 minutes; terminal phase half-life of 90–130 min



Contraindications to fibrinolytic therapy

There are many absolute and relative contraindications to fibrinolytic therapy. In general, the presence of active bleeding or a condition where bleeding would be life-threatening is an absolute contraindication. The contraindications to fibrinolytic therapy are listed in the table Contraindications to Fibrinolytic Therapy.

Contraindications to Fibrinolytic Therapy

Absolute contraindications

Aortic dissection

Previous hemorrhagic stroke (at any time)

Previous ischemic stroke within 1 year

Active internal bleeding (not menses)

Intracranial tumor


Relative contraindications

Blood pressure > 180/110 mm Hg after initial antihypertensive therapy

Trauma or major surgery within 4 weeks

Active peptic ulcer


Bleeding diathesis

Noncompressible vascular puncture

Current anticoagulation (INR > 2)

Other Drugs for Acute Coronary Syndromes

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors reduce mortality risk in patients with myocardial infarction, especially in those with anterior infarction, heart failure, or tachycardia. The greatest benefit occurs in the highest-risk patients early during convalescence. ACE inhibitors are given > 24 hours after thrombolysis stabilization and, because of continued beneficial effect, may be prescribed long-term.

Angiotensin II receptor blockers may be an effective alternative for patients who cannot tolerate ACE inhibitors (eg, because of cough). Currently, they are not first-line treatment after myocardial infarction. Contraindications include hypotension, kidney failure, bilateral renal artery stenosis, and known allergy.

Statins (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) have long been used for prevention of coronary artery disease and ACS, but there is now increasing evidence that they also have short-term benefits, such as stabilizing plaque, reversing endothelial dysfunction, decreasing thrombogenicity, and reducing inflammation. Thus, all patients without contraindications (eg, statin-induced myopathy, liver dysfunction) to therapy should receive a statin at the maximally tolerated dose as early as possible following ACS regardless of their serum lipid levels.

PCSK-9 inhibitors (evolocumab, alirocumab) for patients not at target LDL-C levels, used alone or in combination with other lipid-lowering therapies (eg, statins, ezetimibe) for the treatment of adults with primary hyperlipidemia (including familial hypercholesterolemia)

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Drug Name Select Trade
Isosorbide mononitrate MONOKET
Isosorbide dinitrate ISORDIL
nitroglycerin NITRO-DUR
isoproterenol ISUPREL
Eptifibatide INTEGRILIN
Rosuvastatin CRESTOR
tenecteplase TNKASE
Trandolapril MAVIK
Atorvastatin LIPITOR
Fondaparinux ARIXTRA
Candesartan ATACAND
Rivaroxaban XARELTO
Pravastatin PRAVACHOL
Telmisartan MICARDIS
clopidogrel PLAVIX
Ticlopidine No US brand name
Fluvastatin LESCOL
bivalirudin ANGIOMAX
Simvastatin ZOCOR
Amlodipine NORVASC
Carvedilol COREG
Benazepril LOTENSIN
Irbesartan AVAPRO
Alirocumab PRALUENT
Ranolazine Ranolazine
Dalteparin FRAGMIN
Eprosartan TEVETEN
Enoxaparin LOVENOX
Ivabradine Ivabradine
Evolocumab REPATHA
Lovastatin ALTOPREV
Felodipine PLENDIL
Olmesartan BENICAR
ticagrelor BRILINTA
Bisoprolol ZEBETA
Verapamil CALAN
Captopril CAPOTEN
Abciximab REOPRO
Quinapril ACCUPRIL
alteplase ACTIVASE
Enalapril VASOTEC
Valsartan DIOVAN
ezetimibe ZETIA
reteplase RETAVASE
prasugrel EFFIENT
Moexipril UNIVASC
Ramipril ALTACE
Losartan COZAAR
Apixaban ELIQUIS

Copyright © 2022 Merck & Co., Inc., known as MSD outside of the US, Kenilworth, New Jersey, USA. All rights reserved. Merck Manual Disclaimer