, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 281-290
Date: 11 Feb 2010

Combined oral anticoagulants and antiplatelets: benefits and risks

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Abstract

Combined antiplatelet and anticoagulant therapy has been suggested for those clinical conditions in which conventional antithrombotic regimens have shown suboptimal efficacy, and in patients with indication for both: antiplatelet and anticoagulant therapy. Clinical trials aimed at assessing the clinical benefit of the association with respect to mono-therapy have been conducted in patients with atrial fibrillation, in patients with recent myocardial infarction, and in patients with prosthetic heart valves. Overall, a favorable benefit-risk profile of combined therapy in comparison to anticoagulant alone has been observed in patients with mechanical prosthetic heart valves and in those with coronary artery disease while no clear advantage has been shown in patients with atrial fibrillation. In almost all these studies, however, a higher risk of major bleeding has been observed in patients receiving combined therapy in comparison to patients receiving warfarin alone. Thus, a combined regimen of anticoagulant and antiplatelet therapy should be reserved for selected patients at high risk of thromboembolic events who have a low risk of bleeding.