Author + information
- Craig E. Hjemdahl-Monsen, MD*,
- H. Daniel Lewis, MD†,
- John Cairns, MD‡,
- James H. Chesebro, MD, FACC§ and
- Valentin Fuster, MD, FACC*,a
- ↵aAddress for reprints: Valentin Fuster, MD, Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai Medical Center, One Gustave L. Levy Place, New York, New York 10029.
The role of platelets and the clotting system in the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis has received significant attention. Most importantly, platelets and thrombosis play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of the acute coronary syndromes of unstable angina, myocardial infarction and sudden death. In each stage of the development of coronary artery disease, from the early symptomatic stage through the growing lesion and finally to the complicated plaque that results in the precipitation of the acute coronary syndromes, platelets and the clotting system serve as a common link among them.
Antithrombotic therapy aimed at halting the progression of these syndromes, preventing their occurrence or even reversing them (such as in the early stages of acute myocardial infarction), has provided exciting new modalities to treat these disorders. The use of aspirin in unstable angina in two well designed studies has clearly shown a reduction in fatal as well as nonfatal cardiac events compared with control groups not treated with aspirin. Although demonstration of a benefit of anticoagulant and antiplatelet therapy is difficult owing to a low event rate of thrombotic events (low sensitivity) and other nonthrombotic fatal events (low specificity) after myocardial infarction, pooled results have shown a favorable effect with their use. The usefulness of thrombolytic therapy in the early stages of acute myocardial infarction depends on the timing of initiation of therapy, the severity of the residual stenosis and possible use of agents that protect the ischemic myocardium.
Other potential therapies for the acute coronary syndromes are also suggested. Further studies are in progress to establish the clinical benefits of antithrombotic agents in acute coronary syndromes.
- American College of Cardiology Foundation