Taking prescribed anti-clotting drug may help save stent patients' lives

May 28, 2014

If you've just received a coronary artery stent to prop open a blood vessel, your life may depend on filling your prescription and taking an anti-clotting drug within days of leaving the hospital, according to a large study in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The risk of and death is highest within the first 30 days for those who delay taking their medication than during long-term follow-up out to two years.

Taking the drug clopidogrel plus aspirin is advised for a month in people who have a bare metal stent implanted, and six to 12 months in who get a drug-eluting stent.

"It is very important that patients take clopidogrel after having a implanted to prevent forming within the stent," said Nicholas Cruden, M.B.Ch.B., Ph.D., lead author and a consultant cardiologist at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom. "In a worst-case scenario, the stent can block, resulting in a heart attack or even death."

The new study is based on records for 15,629 people in British Columbia who received either type of stent in 2004-06. About 30 percent of the patients failed to fill a clopidogrel prescription within three days of leaving the hospital.

Compared to patients who filled their prescriptions promptly, those who delayed were about:

  • three times as likely to have a heart attack within a month;
  • five times as likely to die of any cause within a month; and
  • twice as likely to have a heart attack or to die of any cause within two years.

"This study highlights the importance of ensuring patients have access to medications as soon as they leave the hospital," Cruden said. "Even a delay of a day or two was associated with worse outcomes."

Discharging patients from the hospital with enough medicine for the highest-risk period—the first month or so—could help, he said.

Explore further: Low responsiveness to clopidogrel predicts stent thrombosis, heart attack: But is not directly linked to death

Related Stories

1-year results of ADAPT-DES trial published in The Lancet

July 26, 2013

Patients who receive a drug-eluting stent (DES) and demonstrate high platelet reactivity on clopidogrel are more likely to have blood clots form on the stent and to suffer a heart attack; however, these patients are less ...

New coating may reduce blood clot risk inside stents

September 5, 2013

Coating artery-opening stents with a new compound may someday eliminate a common side effect of the treatment, according to preliminary research in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and ...

Recommended for you

Artificial heart design features porous plastic foam

October 2, 2015

Artificial hearts with multiple moving parts increase the chance of failure; scientists have worked up a device which is a single piece. No less interesting is the material they used; the team is taking a page out of soft ...

What powers the pumping heart?

September 25, 2015

Researchers at the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research have uncovered a treasure trove of proteins, which hold answers about how our heart pumps—a phenomenon known as contractility.

Sticky gel helps stem cells heal rat hearts

September 24, 2015

A sticky, protein-rich gel created by Johns Hopkins researchers appears to help stem cells stay on or in rat hearts and restore their metabolism after transplantation, improving cardiac function after simulated heart attacks, ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.