Stent Study Suggest Duration of Plavix Treatment Could be Reduced

Stent patients may not need to take <"">Plavix (clopidogrel) for 12 months after angioplasty to prevent artery-blocking clots, according to a new study. If the findings of the study are confirmed, it could pave the way for both cost saving as well as a reduction in the risk of dangerous bleeding faced by Plavix patients, according to a report from the Reuters.

The Plavix/stent study was presented last week at the American College of Cardiology scientific meeting in New Orleans. It involved 1,428-patients who had all received drug-coated arterial stents and were on the standard so-called dual anti-platelet therapy of aspirin and Plavix. Of those receiving the dual anti-platelet therapy for six months, 4.7 percent suffered target vessel failure, compared to 4.4 percent in the group who took Plavix and Aspirin for 12 months. Target vessel failure is defined as cardiac death, heart attack or need for repeat stenting procedure, Reuters said.

“We have no data to support the current guidelines that recommend at least 12 months duration with clopidogrel, just observational studies,” said Dr. Hyeon-Cheol Gwon, who presented the study at the American College of Cardiology scientific meeting in New Orleans, according to Reuters.

If the study’s findings are in fact confirmed by further research it will be good news for stent patients. While Plavix is effective at preventing clots after angioplasty, it can pose serious bleeding risks. Plavix bleeding can include eye (conjunctival, ocular, retinal) bleeding, musculoskeletal bleeding, fatal intracranial bleeding, respiratory tract bleeding, and skin bleeding, according to its label. As a matter of fact, bleeding, including life-threatening and fatal bleeding, is the most commonly reported Plavix side effect.

The risk of serious bleeding can be a problem for Plavix patients if they have to undergo emergency surgery while taking the blood-thinner.

Other Plavix side effects include Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura or TTP. TTP is a rare blood condition that causes blood clots to form in small blood vessels throughout the body. The blood clots can cause serious problems if they block the blood vessels and limit blood flow to the brain, kidneys, or heart.

Dr. Gwon said the results of the Plavix/stent study could be reassuring to doctors who need to discontinue Plavix treatment in a patient prior to the recommended 12-month duration, according to Reuters.

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