Journal of Thrombosis and Thrombolysis

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 362-371

First online:

Antiplatelet therapy in prevention of cardio- and venous thromboembolic events

  • Steven R. SteinhublAffiliated withScripps Translational Science Institute Email author 
  • , John W. EikelboomAffiliated withMcMaster University
  • , Elaine M. HylekAffiliated withThrombosis Clinic and Anticoagulation Service, Boston University
  • , Harold L. DauermanAffiliated withUniversity of Vermont
  • , Susan S. SmythAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, Physiology, and Pharmacology, University of Kentucky and Veterans Affairs Medical Center
  • , Richard C. BeckerAffiliated withDivision of Cardiovascular Health and Disease, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

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The contribution of platelets in the pathophysiology of low-shear thrombosis—specifically, in atrial fibrillation (AF) and venous thromboembolic events (VTE)—remains less clear than for arterial thrombosis. AF itself appears to lead to platelet activation, offering a potential target for aspirin and other antiplatelet agents. Randomized trial results suggest a small benefit of aspirin over placebo, and of dual antiplatelet therapy (aspirin plus clopidogrel) over aspirin alone, for prevention of cardioembolic events in AF. Antiplatelet therapy thus can represent an option for patients with AF who are unsuitable for therapy with warfarin or novel oral anticoagulant agents. For VTE, the rationale for antiplatelet therapy reflects the venous response to disrupted blood flow—interactions among monocytes, neutrophil extracellular traps, and platelets. Early randomized trials generally showed poorer performance of aspirin relative to heparins and danaparoid sodium in prevention of VTE. However, results from large placebo- and dalteparin-controlled randomized trials have spurred changes in the most recent practice guidelines—aspirin is now recommended after major orthopedic surgery for patients who cannot receive other antithrombotic therapies.


Platelets Fibrillation Thrombosis