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Semin Vasc Med. 2005 Aug;5(3):293-300.

Prevention of cardiovascular events after acute coronary syndrome.

Author information

  • Department of Cardiology, Uppsala Clinical Research Centre, University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden.


Given the pivotal role of thrombin in the pathogenesis of acute coronary syndromes (ACS) and its persistent activation at the site of arterial lesions, antithrombin agents are essential for the prevention of coronary events. Antiplatelet agents are used routinely in the prevention of ACS, but their inability to prevent thrombin generation might contribute to the remaining high rates of recurrent ischemic events after intense antithrombotic treatment in the acute phase. Combination treatment with antiplatelet agents and anticoagulants, such as low-molecular-weight heparins (LMWH) and vitamin K antagonists, provides improved efficacy in the secondary prevention of ACS but these agents have limitations that prevent widespread adoption of their use for long-term treatment. Ximelagatran is the first oral agent in the new class of direct thrombin inhibitors (DTIs) and has considerable therapeutic potential in ACS. The DTIs are able to inhibit free and fibrin-bound thrombin by directly binding to the thrombin catalytic site. Furthermore, the oral administration and predictable pharmacokinetics of ximelagatran mean that it can be used at a fixed dose without coagulation monitoring and is convenient for long-term therapy. The efficacy of ximelagatran in the prevention of coronary events has been investigated in patients with recent myocardial infarction (MI) in the phase II Efficacy and Safety of the Oral Direct Thrombin inhibitor Ximelagatran in Patients with Recent Myocardial Damage (ESTEEM) trial. Ximelagatran (24 to 60 mg twice daily) added to aspirin (160 mg once daily) reduced the risk of the composite end point of death, MI, and severe recurrent ischemia by 24% versus aspirin alone, with no significant increase in major bleeding. Elevated serum transaminase enzymes developed during the first 1 to 6 months of treatment in a proportion of patients given ximelagatran. These elevations usually abated without clinical sequelae whether or not treatment was continued. The ESTEEM results highlight the potential for ximelagatran as an efficacious and well-tolerated long-term treatment for the prevention of arterial thrombotic events.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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