J Clin Neurol.  2014 Jul;10(3):189-196. 10.3988/jcn.2014.10.3.189.

Dual Antiplatelet Therapy after Noncardioembolic Ischemic Stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack: Pros and Cons

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Neurology, Stroke Center, Ilsan Paik Hospital, Inje University, Goyang, Korea. nrhks@paik.ac.kr

Abstract

Dual antiplatelet therapy simultaneously blocks different platelet activation pathways and might thus be more potent at inhibiting platelet activation and more effective at reducing major ischemic vascular events compared to antiplatelet monotherapy. Aspirin plus clopidogrel dual therapy is now the standard therapy for patients with acute coronary syndrome and for those undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention. However, dual antiplatelet therapy carries an increased risk of bleeding. Patients with ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) are generally older and likely to have a fragile cerebrovascular bed, which further increases the risk of systemic major bleeding events and intracranial hemorrhage. Clinical trials and meta-analyses suggest that in comparison to antiplatelet monotherapy, dual antiplatelet therapy initiated early after noncardioembolic ischemic stroke or TIA further reduces the rate of recurrent stroke and major vascular events without significantly increasing the rate of major bleeding events. In contrast, studies of long-term therapy in patients with noncardioembolic ischemic stroke or TIA have yielded inconsistent data regarding the benefit of dual antiplatelet therapy over monotherapy. However, the harm associated with major bleeding events, including intracranial hemorrhage, which is generally more disabling and more fatal than ischemic stroke, is likely to increase with dual antiplatelet therapy. Physicians should carefully assess the benefits and risks of dual antiplatelet therapy versus antiplatelet monotherapy when managing patients with ischemic stroke or TIA.

Keyword

ischemic stroke; TIA; dual antiplatelet therapy

MeSH Terms

Acute Coronary Syndrome
Aspirin
Hemorrhage
Humans
Intracranial Hemorrhages
Ischemic Attack, Transient*
Percutaneous Coronary Intervention
Platelet Activation
Risk Assessment
Stroke*
Aspirin
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