Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine (RCM) is published by IMR Press from Volume 19 Issue 1 (2018). Previous articles were published by another publisher in Open Access under a CC-BY (or CC-BY-NC-ND) licence, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with MedReviews, LLC.
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Thrombosis superimposed on arteriosclerosis is the principal cause of mortality and morbidity in patients with arteriosclerosis. The use of antiplatelet agents and anticoagulants in the treatment of arteriosclerosis is well established, based on many large randomized trials. Aspirin is indicated for primary prevention in patients at increased risk of developing symptomatic atherosclerotic vascular disease. For patients with known vascular disease, antiplatelet therapy with aspirin is a well-established treatment. For high-risk patients such as those with acute coronary syndromes (ACS; unstable angina, myocardial infarction), dual antiplatelet therapy with aspirin and clopidogrel is indicated, based on results of the Clopidogrel in Unstable Angina to Prevent Recurrent Events (CURE) trial. Platelet glycoprotein IIb/IIIa agents are powerful inhibitors of platelet function and are also effective in ACS, but the benefit is confined to high-risk patients. Anticoagulation with heparin or low-molecular-weight heparin (eg, enoxaparin) is also effective, with an approximately 50% reduction in cardiovascular events. These agents are also indicated for patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention. Prolonged dual antiplatelet therapy (at least 6 months) is recommended for patients receiving drug-eluting stents. The efficacy of antiplatelet therapy is thus well established in treating atherothrombosis, but aggressive therapy is associated with an increased bleeding risk. Newer agents may provide improved efficacy with a lower risk of bleeding.