All patients with stable ischemic heart disease (SIHD) should be managed with guideline-directed medical therapy (GDMT), which reduces progression of atherosclerosis and prevents coronary thrombosis. Revascularization is also indicated in patients with SIHD and progressive or refractory symptoms, despite medical management. Whether a strategy of routine revascularization (with percutaneous coronary intervention or coronary artery bypass graft surgery as appropriate) plus GDMT reduces rates of death or myocardial infarction, or improves quality of life compared to an initial approach of GDMT alone in patients with substantial ischemia is uncertain. Opinions run strongly on both sides, and evidence may be used to support either approach. Careful review of the data demonstrates the limitations of our current knowledge, resulting in a state of community equipoise. The ongoing ISCHEMIA trial (International Study of Comparative Health Effectiveness With Medical and Invasive Approaches) is being performed to determine the optimal approach to managing patients with SIHD, moderate-to-severe ischemia, and symptoms that can be controlled medically. (International Study of Comparative Health Effectiveness With Medical and Invasive Approaches [ISCHEMIA]; NCT01471522).
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