We have reviewed the methods of evaluating a patient's cardiac risk preoperatively using a careful history, physical examination, and EKG. Based on this information, various risk indices, guidelines, and algorithms can further assist the physician in deciding which patients can undergo surgery without further testing and which patients might benefit from further cardiac evaluation or medical therapy prior to surgery. The physician must keep in mind that a test should not be ordered if it is unlikely to alter the patient's management, and it is rarely necessary to perform a revascularization procedure with the sole purpose of getting a patient through surgery. Ongoing research is likely to lead to improvement in perioperative medical therapy.
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