Many patients hospitalized with non ST-elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI) are over age 75. This condition requires major management decisions – most importantly, whether to pursue invasive coronary angiography. However there is limited evidence about the absolute benefits of this procedure for NSTEMI in older adults; available data indicate certain advantages (reduced risk of another MI) but also risks (bleeding, acute kidney injury). Until ongoing trials provide better evidence, patients and clinicians are left with uncertainty around whether invasive coronary angiography is worth pursuing.
Our previous qualitative research revealed that for many older adults hospitalized with NSTEMI, they expressed a desire to be better informed about their options. In the same study, cardiologists asked for a tool that would help them facilitate discussions with these patients. And both groups endorsed the process of shared decision making, which involves the active participation of patients in health care decisions that have multiple acceptable choices.
In this context, we undertook an iterative process to develop a decision aid for invasive coronary angiography in older adults with NSTEMI. We convened both clinical experts (cardiologists, geriatricians, internists, nurses) and patients, in order to review serial drafts of this decision aid for accuracy and comprehension. Our development methods are now published and freely available on medRxiv.
We adapted the final decision aid, NSTEMI Decide, to a mobile health app to maximize ease of use in clinical settings. This can currently be found in Apple’s App Store and downloaded for use on iPhone or iPad (an Android version is also under development). The app is eleven pages long and can be used in English or Spanish. We used data from available trials to provide estimates of the benefits and risks of cardiac catheterization, and created visual representations (with patient input) to help make the provided estimates understandable.
To our knowledge, this is the first decision aid developed for NSTEMI in older adults. We are currently studying this decision aid prospectively to evaluate feasibility of use in practice, and how it influences patients’ medical knowledge and feelings of self-efficacy. Our hope is that NSTEMI Decide may eventually be widely disseminated to help patients and clinicians better navigate care decisions together.
Sophie Montgomery is a 2nd year medical student at NYU Grossman School of Medicine.
John Dodson is a Cardiologist and Associate Professor at NYU Grossman School of Medicine.