Antiplatelet therapy (APT) in patients with peripheral occlusive arterial disease (POAD) may reduce cardiovascular (CV) morbidity and mortality by inhibiting atherothrombosis. This article reviews the current evidence for APT in patients with stable POAD and in patients undergoing revascularization procedures for POAD.Methods
A Medline and Pubmed literature search (January 1966 to February 2003) was conducted to identify articles relating APT and POAD. Manual cross referencing was also used.Results and Conclusions
Meta-analyses suggest that APT (most commonly aspirin) in patients with stable POAD significantly reduces the incidence of nonfatal stroke, myocardial infarction and CV death. However, this conclusion is based on subset analysis of data predominantly involving patients with coronary and cerebrovascular atherosclerosis. There is a little direct evidence for the use of aspirin in patients with isolated POAD, but in practice, aspirin remains the most commonly used antiplatelet agent as high rates of coronary and cerebrovascular diseases are observed in this patient population. For patients with POAD without additional indicators of vascular risk, the protective effect of aspirin is unclear and dependent on the balance of risks and benefits in the individual patient. For patients undergoing peripheral revascularization, ticlopidine and aspirin in combination with dipyridamole are effective in maintaining patency after bypass procedures and following angioplasty/femoral endarterectomy. The efficacy of thienopyridines in peripheral angioplasty is uncertain, and the optimum timing and duration of APT relative to intervention are not known.