American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 249–257 | Cite as

Direct Antithrombins

Mechanisms, Trials, and Role in Contemporary Interventional Medicine
Review Article


Direct thrombin inhibitors have several potential advantages over indirect thrombin inhibitors such as heparin. Bivalirudin, a bivalent direct thrombin inhibitor, is most commonly used in clinical practice and has a proven role in contemporary interventional medicine with elective percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) as well as in patients with non-ST-elevation acute coronary syndrome (NSTEACS). Results from well-controlled clinical trials have shown that bivalirudin is associated with an approximate 50% reduction in major bleeding while having similar effects on incidence of death and myocardial infarction (MI) compared with herapin or enoxaparin and glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors. Bivalirudin has been successfully used in off- and on-pump cardiac surgery.

Argatroban is the most evaluated among the univalent direct thrombin inhibitors inhibiting only the catalytic site of thrombin. It has been associated with similar rates of major bleeding compared with heparin in patients with acute MI receiving either streptokinase or alteplase with no effects on clinical endpoints.

In a meta-analysis of 11 randomised trials where direct thrombin inhibitors (hirudin, bivalirudin, argatroban, efegatan or inogatran) were compared with unfractionated heparin in >35 000 patients with ST-elevation MI (STEMI) or NSTEACS there was no mortality difference between treatment groups but the incidence of MI at 30 days was significantly reduced in patients treated with direct thrombin inhibitors compared with heparin (4.7% vs 5.3%; p < 0.004).

The role of direct thrombin inhibitors in both primary angioplasty for STEMI and angioplasty after fibrinolytic therapy needs to be established. Overall, the efficacy and improved safety profile make bivalirudin an attractive first-line anticoagulant for elective PCI and in patients with NSTEACS undergoing an invasive strategy.


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© Adis Data Information BV 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dunedin School of Medicine, CardiologyOtago UniversityOtagoNew Zealand
  2. 2.Green Lane Cardiovascular ServiceAuckland City HospitalAucklandNew Zealand

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