Antiplatelet Regimen for Patients With Breakthrough Strokes While on Aspirin: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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Abstract

Background and Purpose—

Optimal antiplatelet therapy after an ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack while on aspirin is uncertain. We, therefore, conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Methods—

We searched PubMed (1966 to August 2016) and bibliographies of relevant published original studies to identify randomized trials and cohort studies reporting patients who were on aspirin at the time of an index ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack and reported hazard ratio for major adverse cardiovascular events or recurrent stroke associated with a switch to or addition of another antiplatelet agent versus maintaining aspirin monotherapy. Estimates were combined using a random effects model.

Results—

Five studies with 8723 patients with ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack were identified. Clopidogrel was used in 4 cohorts, and ticagrelor was used in 1 cohort. Pooling results showed that addition of or a switch to another antiplatelet agent, versus aspirin monotherapy, was associated with reduced risks of major adverse cardiovascular events (hazard ratio, 0.68; 95% confidence interval, 0.54–0.85) and recurrent stroke (hazard ratio, 0.70; 95% confidence interval, 0.54–0.92). Each of the strategies of addition of and switching another antiplatelet agent showed benefit versus continued aspirin monotherapy, and studies with regimen initiation in the first days after index event showed more homogenous evidence of benefit.

Conclusions—

Among patients who experience an ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack while on aspirin monotherapy, the addition of or a switch to another antiplatelet agent, especially in the first days after index event, is associated with fewer future vascular events, including stroke.

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