Safe use of platelet GP IIb/IIIa inhibitors

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Abstract

The platelet membrane glycoprotein IIb/IIIa receptor inhibitor abciximab is used for the treatment of patients undergoing high-risk percutaneous coronary interventions and is used in approximately one third of coronary interventions in the United States and a growing number of procedures in Europe. Recent clinical trials have shown that this potent antiplatelet agent significantly reduces the incidence of death and nonfatal myocardial infarction and the need for revascularization. With expanding experience since the commercial release of abciximab in February 1995, several strategies to enhance the safety of abciximab have emerged. In particular, new data confirm that the risk of bleeding-identified as a concern in the original EPIC trial-can be substantially reduced through the use of low-dose adjunctive heparin, early sheath removal, and fastidious postprocedure vascular access site care. Other recommendations for enhancing the safety of potent antiplatelet agents in a variety of clinical situations are provided. The following article reflects insights regarding the safety of glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors expressed by a group of international experts convened in Davos, Switzerland, February 16, 1997. This report attempts to review clinical progress to date, formulate recommendations, and map out potentially fruitful lines of inquiry for future investigation.

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