Improving Long-Term ACS Management: Is There a Role for the New Antiplatelets?
Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is a major health burden, resulting in increased hospital admissions and significant morbidity and mortality. Platelet activation, which leads to thrombin generation, is highly implicated in ACS, and antiplatelet agents represent the current standard of care. Established antiplatelet agents include acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), thienopyridines (clopidogrel, ticlopidine), and glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors. Recently, antiplatelet therapy for ACS has evolved to include more potent inhibitors (e.g., prasugrel, cangrelor, and ticagrelor). During the acute phase of an acute coronary event, both anticoagulation and dual antiplatelet therapy with aspirin and a thienopyridine are guideline recommended as first-line treatment. While anticoagulation is usually limited to the acute in-patient phase, dual antiplatelet therapy is recommended for 12 months. Despite the efficacy of antiplatelet agents in ACS, in many patients the residual risk of death from cardiac events, myocardial infarction, stroke, and refractory ischemia remains high. Dual therapy (i.e., ASA or clopidogrel plus a vitamin K antagonist [VKA]), and triple therapy (two antiplatelets plus a VKA) are associated with increases in bleeding complications. New oral anticoagulants that offer a novel mechanism of action may, when added to the current standard of care, provide a more comprehensive response to thrombin generation. In this review, we examine the pathology of ACS, investigate antiplatelet therapies and describe emerging anticoagulants that may be of benefit when used as combination therapy with antiplatelet agents for secondary prevention in ACS patients. (J Interven Cardiol 2012;25:425-432).
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