Is Complete Revascularization Now Compulsory? MULTISTARS-AMI and FIRE in Context

Michelle L. O'Donoghue, MD, MPH; Sahil A. Parikh, MD


September 08, 2023

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Michelle L. O'Donoghue, MD, MPH: Hi. This is Dr Michelle O'Donoghue reporting for Medscape. Joining me today is Dr Sahil Parikh, who's a cardiologist and an interventionalist at Columbia University. He's an associate professor of medicine.

We'll be discussing two interesting trials that were presented at the ESC Congress here in Amsterdam. They do have the potential to be very practice-changing, so I think it's worth talking about.

The FIRE Trial

The first trial we'll be talking about is the FIRE trial. Perhaps setting the stage, Sahil, I'd love to get your thoughts. We've had data in this space to suggest that, for patients with STEMI [ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction], a strategy of complete revascularization — and not only treating the culprit lesion but also treating additional lesions — may be of benefit. Where does that lead us in terms of what we didn't know?

Sahil A. Parikh, MD: I think that the practice has moved, at least in the United States, over the past two decades, from staging percutaneous coronary interventions (PCIs) over 30 days from index to intervention to now trying to do patients in the same hospitalization whenever possible to achieve complete revascularization.

I think these data support not only that complete revascularization is compulsory now in these patients, but also doing it sooner rather than later, and that the benefit applies to most of the patients that we see in clinical practice. In the earlier data, the patients were relatively youthful — under Medicare age, less than 65 — and now this dataset has a median age of 80. This is more like the real-world clinical practice that most of us are encountering, and it extends the benefit, perhaps, greater than we've ever seen before.

O'Donoghue: The FIRE trial is interesting. As you say, it enrolled patients who were over the age of 75, where I think that some proceduralists are probably a little bit hesitant to think about complete revascularization due to concerns about any additional contrast load on their kidneys and other types of comorbidities. Of course, for any trial, there's going to be some patient selection.

I think it's very reassuring that even in this older patient group, a strategy of treating all the lesions — and not only in STEMI but also in non-STEMI patients — reduced cardiovascular events and mortality. I was really quite impressed by the mortality benefit.

Parikh: The mortality curve is almost surprising to me. On the other hand, it emboldens us now that we can treat these patients more completely and earlier in their clinical presentation. Certainly, we worried about contrast exposure and the duration of procedures in this older population, but it seems that the benefit that's derived, which we saw in younger patients where we had a natural inclination to be more aggressive, extends also to this older population.


O'Donoghue: To the question of timing, as you mentioned, prior to this, we had a study presented earlier this year, the BIOVASC trial, which also was suggestive that maybe earlier complete revascularization was better. But it wasn't a significant difference, at least for the primary outcome. Now we have MULTISTARS AMI, which is very supportive of what we saw earlier this year, suggesting that complete revascularization really at the time that you're treating the culprit may be the way to go.

Parikh: All of us, as interventionalists, are circumspect about what we might do in the middle of the night vs what we would do in the light of day. Certainly it seems clear, particularly if it's straightforward anatomy, that taking care of it in the index procedure is not only saving contrast and fluoroscopy time, but it's also providing a clinical benefit to the patients. That's something that will also impact how clinicians interpret these data. Previously, there was always a question about whether we should just do it in the same hospitalization or do it at the same time. I think now, increasingly, we're emboldened to do more in the index procedure.

O'Donoghue: When you're thinking about nonculprit lesions and which ones to treat, do you always make that determination based on physiologic guidance of some kind? Are you using instantaneous wave-free ratio (iFR)? What's your practice?

Parikh: In the acute setting, imaging is superior for at least the assessment of which is a culprit. If you see a ruptured atherothrombotic situation on optical coherence tomography (OCT), for example, that's fairly convincing and definitive. In the absence of that physiology, we are taught to avoid in the infarct-related artery because of potential spuriously false-negative findings.

In this situation, certainly, an imaging subgroup probably would be helpful because some of the benefit is almost certainly derived from identifying the infarct-related artery by accident — in other words, doing what you thought was the nonculprit artery, which is, in fact, the culprit. I think that probably is part of this. As somebody who uses imaging in the overwhelming number of my cases, I think that imaging would be an important surrogate to this.

Index Procedure vs Staged

O'Donoghue: For the operator who is coming in to do their STEMI case at 2:00 in the morning, would these data now push you toward doing complete revascularization at that time of night, or do you think that there is wiggle room in terms of interpreting these results regarding timing, where as long as you were doing it before hospital discharge and not, let's say, 30 days out, that you may be able to derive the same benefit? What are some of the pros and cons?

Parikh: There's definitely a fatigue factor in the middle of the night if it's a particularly arduous intervention for the index infarct-related artery. I think there's a human element where it may make sense just to stop and then bring the patient back in the same hospitalization. It's clear, though, that doing complete revascularization is better and doing it sooner is better. How soon one actually does it is a judgment call, as ever.

In our practice, we've been pushing ourselves to get most of the patients done in their index hospitalization. If you have a left-sided culprit, the left anterior descending artery (LAD), for example, and there's a high-grade stenosis in the circumflex, it may make sense to take care of that in the same index procedure. If, on the other hand, it's in the right coronary artery where you have to put a new guide in and spend more time, that may be a patient whom you stage. I think those nuances will come up as interventionalists look at the subgroup analysis data more carefully.

O'Donoghue: Those are great points, and I think they also underscore that we always need to think about what type of patient was enrolled in these studies. Certainly, if you have somebody with renal dysfunction, there might be more concern about giving them a large contrast load all in one sitting, albeit hard to know whether they do or not. But spacing that out by just a couple of days would really have a big impact.

Parikh: Very often in the STEMI patient, you don't have the benefit of knowing the creatinine. The patient will come in immediately, if not directly from the ambulance to the cath lab, and there are no laboratories at all to work with. If the patient has never been seen in the system before, you won't know. Again, in those situations, one may have pause, particularly if it's an older patient. I think what's reassuring, though, is that the data are supportive of being more aggressive earlier, and certainly this is the dataset that we were looking for.

O'Donoghue: To summarize, the two key takeaways are that, one, we now have more data to support a complete revascularization strategy and even extending that now to non-STEMI patients. Two, sooner appears to be better, so ideally, all done at the time of the index procedure. I think this is very interesting science and we'll see how it changes practice.

Thanks for joining me today. Signing off for Medscape, this is Dr Michelle O'Donoghue.

Michelle O'Donoghue is a cardiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and senior investigator with the TIMI Study Group. A strong believer in evidence-based medicine, she relishes discussions about the published literature. A native Canadian, Michelle loves spending time outdoors with her family but admits with shame that she's never strapped on hockey skates.

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