Alan C. Cameron, MB ChB, BSc (Hons), MRCP
Rahman H, Khan SU, Nasir F, Hammad T, Meyer MA, Kaluski E. Optimal Duration of Aspirin Plus Clopidogrel After Ischemic Stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Stroke. 2019;50:947–953.
Through a systemic review and meta-analysis of 10 randomised trials comparing dual antiplatelet therapy (DAPT) with aspirin plus clopidogrel versus aspirin alone in over 15,000 patients with ischaemic stroke (IS) or transient ischaemic attack (TIA), Rahman and colleagues demonstrate that £1 month of DAPT reduces the relative risk of recurrent IS by almost 50% with no increase in major bleeding. In contrast, £3 months of DAPT reduces IS by 28% but increases major bleeding, whilst >3 months of DAPT does not reduce recurrent IS and increases major bleeding. The reduction in risk of recurrent IS with £3 months of DAPT may be due to substantial early benefit within the first few days or weeks. The POINT and CHANCE trials suggest maximum benefit is achieved when DAPT is initiated within the first 24 hours after minor IS or high-risk TIA, which highlights a need for services that allow patients to be reviewed within this timeframe.
The risk of bleeding was greater in aspirin naïve patients in analysis of the EXPRESS and FASTER studies, highlighting a need to screen carefully for bleeding risk factors in this group of patients. Better blood pressure control combined with screening and management of bleeding risk factors is essential to ensure benefits from antiplatelet therapy are not offset by increased bleeding. Overall, we can be confident that DAPT is most effective and safe in the early weeks after minor IS or high-risk TIA to reduce the risk of recurrence.