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Postgrad Med. 2013 Sep;125(5):19-30. doi: 10.3810/pgm.2013.09.2694.

Use of antiplatelet agents in patients with atherosclerotic disease.

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Division of Cardiology, Guthrie Health Services, Sayre PA.


Platelets play a key role in the initiation of hemostatic mechanisms during vascular injury. When contemplating prescription of antiplatelet agents (APAs) for patients as primary prevention for cardiovascular events, the physician should carefully weigh the potential benefits of cardiovascular risk reduction with the likelihood of harm, related mostly to hemorrhagic complications. The role of APAs in secondary prevention of atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease is well established, however, optimal duration of therapy and intensity of patient treatment are not settled and probably need to be individualized per patient. We describe the data emerging from contemporary trials on the efficacy and safety of the use of oral APAs in various patient subpopulations. We also discuss the advantages and potential roles of new APAs during and following acute coronary syndromes, percutaneous coronary interventions, and symptomatic atherosclerosis. We propose certain strategies and directions for future research to enhance the safety and efficacy prevention by optimizing the beneficial effects of APAs along with other contemporary treatment modalities of primary and secondary prevention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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