, Volume 250, Issue 1, pp 63-66

Aspirin non-responder status in patients with recurrent cerebral ischemic attacks

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Background: Antiplatelet agents such as acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) reduce the relative risk for cerebrovascular events in patients with cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disorders by approximately 23 %. Recent observations raise the possibility that aspirin resistance may contribute to the failure of aspirin treatment in a significant proportion of patients (aspirin non-responders). To evaluate the clinical relevance of aspirin non-responder status, we analysed platelet functions in symptomatic and asymptomatic patients treated with aspirin for secondary prevention of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events. Methods: A total of 53 patients on 100 mg aspirin daily for secondary prevention (mean treatment duration > 60 months) were included. Patients were categorized as asymptomatic if they were free of cerebrovascular incidents for at least 24 months (n = 18). Symptomatic patients had suffered ischemic strokes or transient ischemic attacks within the previous 3 days (n = 35). Platelet function was assessed using the PFA–100 system that allows for quantitative assessment of platelet function, reporting platelet aggregatability as the time required to close a small aperture in a biologically active membrane. Results: Collagen/epinephrine closure times were significantly shorter in symptomatic patients than in asymptomatic patients (p < 0.01). Individual closing times were normal in 12 of 35 symptomatic patients (34 % non-responders) whereas all asymptomatic patients had prolonged closure times. Conclusions: Aspirin non-responder status may contribute to failure of aspirin therapy in the secondary prevention of cerebrovascular incidents in as much as 30–40 % of patients. Quantitative assessment of platelet functions may provide a means to predict aspirin treatment failure in individual patients and to re-direct therapeutic strategies.

Received: 7 May 2002, Received in revised form: 28 August 2002, Accepted: 2 September 2002
Correspondence to Priv.-Doz. Dr. Helge Topka