Review of antiplatelet therapy in secondary prevention of cerebrovascular events: a need for direct comparisons between antiplatelet agents

Dara G Jamieson, Amit Parekh, Michael D Ezekowitz
Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics 2005, 10 (3): 153-61
Patients experiencing stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) are at high risk for recurrent (secondary) strokes, which comprise 29% of all strokes in the United States. Current recommendations for prevention of secondary stroke from the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) call for the broad use of platelet antiaggregation (antiplatelet) agents for patients with a history of noncardioembolic stroke or TIA. Five agents--aspirin, ticlopidine, clopidogrel, extended-release dipyridamole (ER-DP), and triflusal--have demonstrated efficacy in large-scale clinical studies in the prevention of recurrent vascular events and/or stroke in patients with a history of stroke. The results of the following studies are reviewed and compared: the Swedish Aspirin Low-Dose Trial (SALT), the United Kingdom Transient Ischaemic Attack (UK-TIA) Aspirin Trial, Dutch Transient Ischemic Attack (Dutch TIA) study (aspirin), the Canadian American Ticlopidine Study (CATS), the Ticlopidine Aspirin Stroke Study (TASS), the African American Antiplatelet Stroke Prevention Study (AAASPS) (ticlopidine), the Clopidogrel versus Aspirin in Patients at Risk of Recurrent Ischemic Events (CAPRIE) trial, the Management of Atherothrombosis With Clopidogrel in High-Risk Patients study (MATCH) (clopidogrel), the second European Stroke Prevention Study (ESPS2) (aspirin plus ER-DP), and the Triflusal versus Aspirin in Cerebral Infarction Prevention (TACIP) study. In comparative monotherapy studies of patients with previous stroke, ticlopidine demonstrates statistically significant improved efficacy over aspirin, and clopidogrel demonstrates nonsignificant slight improvement over aspirin for the prevention of ischemic cardiac and cerebrovascular events; however, the adverse event profile of ticlopidine (including rash, diarrhea, and neutropenia) will probably limit its long-term use. Among combination approaches, only aspirin plus ER-DP has demonstrated statistically significant, clinically meaningful additive benefit over monotherapy with each agent. Clopidogrel plus aspirin did not significantly improve preventive efficacy and increased the risk of serious side effects, including life-threatening bleeding episodes. The 15,500-patient PRoFESS (the Prevention Regimen for Effectively Avoiding Second Strokes) study, with results expected in 2008, will directly compare aspirin plus ER-DP with clopidogrel monotherapy for the prevention of recurrent stroke and should provide statistically robust estimates of comparative efficacy for the development of improved recommendations.

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