Antiplatelet therapy in acute coronary syndromes: the emergency physician's perspective.
J Emerg Med. 2008 Jul;35(1):5-13
Authors: Pollack CV, Hollander JE
The platelet plays a central role in the pathogenesis of coronary thrombosis after atherosclerotic plaque rupture, and its active inhibition forms a cornerstone of the management of acute coronary syndromes (ACS). Early treatment with clopidogrel in addition to aspirin is more effective than aspirin alone in reducing recurrent ischemic events in patients presenting with ACS, and is a useful adjunct to percutaneous coronary intervention, especially with stenting. There is a potential for increased bleeding complications in patients on clopidogrel therapy who subsequently undergo urgent coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Consequently, many emergency physicians withhold clopidogrel treatment until it is clear that urgent coronary artery bypass graft surgery will not be required. The potential untoward effects seem to be minimized by withholding antiplatelet therapy 3-5 days before surgery. Intravenous glycoprotein (GP) IIb/IIIa receptors inhibitors are also particularly useful in patients who undergo percutaneous coronary intervention, and may have some utility in the medical management of patients with high-risk non-ST-segment elevation ACS, starting in the emergency department. For patients presenting to the emergency department with ACS, the benefits and risks of initiating clopidogrel or GP IIb/IIIa inhibitor therapy need to be considered on an individual basis.
PMID: 18359601 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
This article reinforces the data supporting the use of combined aspirin + clopidogrel therapy in patients who present with acute coronary syndrome. Many physicians, however, are reluctant to prescribe dual therapy because of the increased bleeding risk with PCI and CABG. Do you routinely prescribe dual therapy for patients admitted with (1) STEMI, (2) NSTEMI, (3) Unstable angina, and (4) Chest pain of undetermined etiology?