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This chapter will explore the approach to assessing the cardiac health of patients with vascular disease, specifically addressing perioperative management in high-risk patients and identifying those who will need further cardiac examination and treatment prior to surgery. It will also offer an overview of cardiac conditions which may provide a source of arterial emboli leading to acute or chronic limb ischemia.


Preoperative surgical decision-making.


Due to shared risk factors and similarities in underlying pathophysiology, the overlap between coronary artery disease (CAD) and peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is substantial. Patients with known PAD frequently have atherosclerosis of a second vascular bed, and prior studies have demonstrated an incidence of CAD in this population ranging from 46% to 71%.1,2 Due to the high pretest probability of CAD, cardiac risk assessment in patients planned for vascular surgery is vital in preventing untoward events. In addition, appropriate medical management is essential not only to reduce the perioperative risk but also to improve the long-term outlook.

Risk Assessment Tools

There are numerous tools available for predicting the risk of perioperative major adverse cardiac events (MACE) in patients undergoing noncardiac surgery, with the Revised Cardiac Risk Index (RCRI) being one of the most frequently used (Table 6-1). However, several other scoring systems have been created such as the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP), which appears to outperform the RCRI specifically in patients undergoing vascular surgery (Table 6-2).3 Guidelines do not support the use of any particular risk calculator over another, but do recommend the use of any validated risk prediction tool to help assess the risk of MACE.4

TABLE 6-1Revised Cardiac Risk Index

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