Antiplatelet therapy after stroke: should it differ in the acute and chronic phase after stroke

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Reviewing existing evidence regarding well tolerated and effective antiplatelet treatment in patients with acute or chronic, noncardioembolic ischemic stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA).

Recent findings

For patients with high-risk stroke or TIA, for instance, minor stroke or high-risk TIA, or stroke of atherosclerotic origin with evidence suggesting risk of artery-to-artery embolism or with high-grade, symptomatic arterial stenosis, early initiated, short-term dual antiplatelet (e.g. aspirin and clopidogrel) is effective in reducing the risk of recurrent stroke and other vascular events which does not increase the risk of severe or fatal bleeding, as compared with mono antiplatelet therapy. However, long-term application of aggressive antiplatelet therapies after a noncardioembolic stroke or TIA increases the bleeding risks. Triple antiplatelet therapy is not appropriate for noncardioembolic stroke or TIA, in view of the high bleeding risk. In addition, emerging antiplatelets such as ticagrelor and cilostazol may work better in certain subgroups of stroke patients, which warrants further investigation.

Summary

Antiplatelet therapies should differ in the acute and chronic phases among patients with high-risk stroke or TIA when more aggressive antiplatelet treatment is reasonable in the acute phase, but no solid evidence supports different antiplatelet strategies in acute and chronic phases in patients with low-risk noncardioembolic stroke.

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