Clinical Outcomes, Health Resource Use, and Cost in Patients with Early versus Late Dual or Triple Anti-Platelet Treatment for Acute Coronary Syndrome

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Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) guidelines recommend early dual anti-platelet therapy (thienopyridines + acetylsalicylic acid [aspirin]). However, triple therapy (thienopyridines + aspirin + glycoprotein IIb/IIIa receptor inhibitors [GRIs]) has shown benefit in clinical trials.


This study assessed real-world ACS treatment patterns and outcomes in the acute care setting.

Study Design

A retrospective analysis of patients admitted to hospital with ACS (index event) from January 2007 to December 2009 was conducted (Thomson's MarketScan Hospital Drug Database).


Eligible patients were ≥18 years of age, of either sex, and had primary admission and discharge diagnoses of ACS.

Outcome Measures

Cohorts were defined by anti-platelet treatment and then by the timing of treatment initiation (early initiation: within ≤2 days of admission; late initiation: ≥2 days post-admission). Patient characteristics, clinical outcomes, resource utilization, and costs were assessed using descriptive statistics.


A total of 249,907 eligible patients were placed into four treatment cohorts (aspirin assumed for all patients): aspirin only; clopidogrel only (dual therapy); GRI only (dual therapy); and clopidogrel + GRI (triple therapy). Patients in the ‘clopidogrel-only' cohort were more likely to be older, female, and have more co-morbidities than those in other cohorts; stroke (6.2 %) and re-hospitalization (15.4 %) rates were higher than in the ‘GRI-only' and ‘triple therapy' cohorts. The GRI-only cohort had higher major bleeding rates (3.3 %), mortality (7.6 %), and costs ($US21,975 [year 2010 values]) than the clopidogrel-only and triple-therapy cohorts. Late initiation cohorts were more likely to be older, female, and have more co-morbidities than early initiation cohorts. Major bleeding was more likely with GRI-only patients (regardless of initiation timing) than with other cohorts. Late-treated clopidogrel-only patients had higher rates of stroke (6.9 %), ACS-related re-admissions (6.1 %), and all-cause re-admissions (15.9 %) than other cohorts. Late treatment was associated with longer length of stay and significantly higher costs.


Real-world anti-platelet treatment patterns are consistent with ACS guidelines recommending early initiation and selective GRI use. In contrast to recommendations, some outcomes were improved with triple therapy compared with dual therapy.

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