Platelet Plumbing

Triaging patients

Treatment of patients with chest pain involves combination therapy with both old standby drugs and newer products and procedures. As an increasing number of tests and drugs become available, the decision making process becomes more complex and is based on the attending physician's findings, diagnosis, and plan.

However, every patient presenting for chest pain receives treatment with chewable aspirin. "If you don't give the patient an aspirin to chew on, you're in trouble," said Peter Fitzgerald, associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at Stanford University. Every patient also receives nitroglycerine to relax and open coronary vessels, and the anticoagulant heparin.