Top Things to Know: 2021 ACC/AHA/SCAI Guideline for Coronary Artery Revascularization

Published: December 09, 2021

  1. Treatment decisions with regard to coronary revascularization in patients with coronary artery disease should be based on clinical indications, regardless of sex, race, or ethnicity, because there is no evidence that some patients benefit less than others, and efforts to reduce disparities of care are warranted.
  2. In patients being considered for coronary revascularization for whom the optimal treatment strategy is unclear, a multidisciplinary Heart Team approach is recommended. Treatment decisions should be patient centered, incorporate patient preferences and goals, and include shared decision-making.
  3. For patients with significant left main disease, surgical revascularization is indicated to improve survival relative to that likely to be achieved with medical therapy. Percutaneous revascularization is a reasonable option to improve survival, compared with medical therapy, in selected patients with low to medium anatomic complexity of coronary artery disease and left main disease that is equally suitable for surgical or percutaneous revascularization.
  4. Updated evidence from contemporary trials supplement older evidence with regard to mortality benefit of revascularization in patients with stable ischemic heart disease, normal left ventricular ejection fraction, and triple-vessel coronary artery disease. Surgical revascularization may be reasonable to improve survival. A survival benefit with percutaneous revascularization is uncertain. Revascularization decisions are based on consideration of disease complexity, technical feasibility of treatment, and a Heart Team discussion.
  5. The use of a radial artery as a surgical revascularization conduit is preferred to the use of a saphenous vein conduit to bypass the second most important target vessel with significant stenosis after the left anterior descending coronary artery. Benefits include superior patency, reduced adverse cardiac events, and improved survival.
  6. Radial artery access is recommended in patients undergoing percutaneous intervention who have acute coronary syndromes or stable ischemic heart disease, to reduce bleeding and vascular complications compared with a femoral approach. Patients with acute coronary syndromes also benefit from a reduction in mortality rate with this approach.
  7. A short duration of dual antiplatelet therapy after percutaneous revascularization in patients with stable ischemic heart disease is reasonable to reduce the risk of bleeding events. After consideration of recurrent ischemia and bleeding risks, select patients may safely transition to P2Y12 inhibitor monotherapy and stop aspirin after 1 to 3 months of dual antiplatelet therapy.
  8. Staged percutaneous intervention (while in hospital or after discharge) of a significantly stenosed non-culprit artery in patients presenting with an ST-segment–elevation myocardial infarction is recommended in select patients to improve outcomes. Percutaneous intervention of the non-culprit artery at the time of primary percutaneous coronary intervention is less clear and may be considered in stable patients with uncomplicated revascularization of the culprit artery, low-complexity non-culprit artery disease, and normal renal function. In contrast, percutaneous intervention of the non-culprit artery can be harmful in patients in cardiogenic shock.
  9. Revascularization decisions in patients with diabetes and multivessel coronary artery disease are optimized by the use of a Heart Team approach. Patients with diabetes who have triple-vessel disease should undergo surgical revascularization; percutaneous coronary intervention may be considered if they are poor candidates for surgery.
  10. Treatment decisions for patients undergoing surgical revascularization of coronary artery disease should include the calculation of a patient’s surgical risk with the Society of Thoracic Surgeons score. The usefulness of the SYNTAX score calculation in treatment decisions is less clear because of the interobserver variability in its calculation and its absence of clinical variables.


Lawton JS, Tamis-Holland JE, Bangalore S, Bates ER, Beckie TM, Bischoff JM, Bittl JA, Cohen MG, DiMaio JM, Don CW, Fremes SE, Gaudino MF, Goldberger ZD, Grant MC, Jaswal JB, Kurlansky PA, Mehran R, Metkus TS Jr, Nnacheta LC, Rao SV, Sabik JF, Sellke FW, Sharma G, Yong CM, Zwischenberger BA. 2021 ACC/AHA/SCAI guideline for coronary artery revascularization: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Joint Committee on Clinical Practice Guidelines [published online ahead of print December 9, 2021]. Circulation. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000001038