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Actual Role of Platelet Glycoprotein IIb/IIIa Receptor Inhibitors as Adjunctive Pharmacological Therapy to Primary Angioplasty in Acute Myocardial Infarction: In the Light of Recent Randomized Trials and Observational Studies with Bivalirudin

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      Strategies for preventing ischemic complications during percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) in the setting of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) have focused on the platelet surface-membrane glycoprotein (GP) IIb/IIIa receptor. The platelet GP IIb/IIIa receptor inhibitors, by blocking the final common pathway of platelet aggregation, have become a breakthrough in the management of acute coronary syndromes. Current adjuvant pharmacological therapy of AMI with aspirin, clopidogrel, unfractionated heparin (UH), and platelet GP IIb/IIIa inhibitors provides useful therapeutic benefits. Although the use of more potent antithrombin and antiplatelet agents during PCI in AMI has reduced the rate of ischemic complications, in parallel, the rate of bleeding has increased. Several studies have reported an association between bleeding after PCI and an increase in morbidity and mortality. Therefore, investigational studies have focused in pharmacological agents that would reduce bleeding complications without compromising the rate of major adverse cardiovascular events. Based on the results of several randomized trials, abciximab with UH, aspirin and clopidogrel have become a standard adjunctive therapy with primary PCI for AMI. However, some of the trials were done before the use of stents and the widespread use of thienopyridines. In addition, GP IIb/IIIa inhibitors use have been associated with thrombocytopenia, high rates of bleeding, and the need for transfusions, which increase costs, length of hospital stay, and mortality. On the other hand, in the stent era, bivalirudin, a semi-synthetic direct thrombin inhibitor, has recently been shown to provide similar efficacy with less bleeding compared with unfractionated heparin plus platelet GP IIb/IIIa inhibitors in AMI patients treated with primary PCI. The impressive results of this recent randomized trial and other observational studies make a strong argument for the use of bivalirudin rather than heparin plus GP IIb/IIIa inhibitors for the great majority of patients with AMI treated with primary PCI. However, some controversial results and limitations in the studies with bivalirudin exert some doubts in the future widespread use of this drug.

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        Balloon-expandable coronary-artery stents were developed to prevent coronary restenosis after coronary angioplasty. These devices hold coronary vessels open at sites that have been dilated. However, it is unknown whether stenting improves long-term angiographic and clinical outcomes as compared with standard balloon angioplasty. A total of 520 patients with stable angina and a single coronary-artery lesion were randomly assigned to either stent implantation (262 patients) or standard balloon angioplasty (258 patients). The primary clinical end points were death, the occurrence of a cerebrovascular accident, myocardial infarction, the need for coronary-artery bypass surgery, or a second percutaneous intervention involving the previously treated lesion, either at the time of the initial procedure or during the subsequent seven months. The primary angiographic end point was the minimal luminal diameter at follow-up, as determined by quantitative coronary angiography. After exclusions, 52 patients in the stent group (20 percent) and 76 patients in the angioplasty group (30 percent) reached a primary clinical end point (relative risk, 0.68; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.50 to 0.92; P = 0.02). The difference in clinical-event rates was explained mainly by a reduced need for a second coronary angioplasty in the stent group (relative risk, 0.58; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.40 to 0.85; P = 0.005). The mean (+/- SD) minimal luminal diameters immediately after the procedure were 2.48 +/- 0.39 mm in the stent group and 2.05 +/- 0.33 mm in the angioplasty group; at follow-up, the diameters were 1.82 +/- 0.64 mm in the stent group and 1.73 +/- 0.55 mm in the angioplasty group (P = 0.09), which correspond to rates of restenosis (diameter of stenosis, > or = 50 percent) of 22 and 32 percent, respectively (P = 0.02). Peripheral vascular complications necessitating surgery, blood transfusion, or both were more frequent after stenting than after balloon angioplasty (13.5 vs. 3.1 percent, P < 0.001). The mean hospital stay was significantly longer in the stent group than in the angioplasty group (8.5 vs. 3.1 days, P < 0.001). Over seven months of follow-up, the clinical and angiographic outcomes were better in patients who received a stent than in those who received standard coronary angioplasty. However, this benefit was achieved at the cost of a significantly higher risk of vascular complications at the access site and a longer hospital stay.
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          Coronary-stent placement is a new technique in which a balloon-expandable, stainless-steel, slotted tube is implanted at the site of a coronary stenosis. The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of stent placement and standard balloon angioplasty on angiographically detected restenosis and clinical outcomes. We randomly assigned 410 patients with symptomatic coronary disease to elective placement of a Palmaz-Schatz stent or to standard balloon angioplasty. Coronary angiography was performed at base line, immediately after the procedure, and six months later. The patients who underwent stenting had a higher rate of procedural success than those who underwent standard balloon angioplasty (96.1 percent vs. 89.6 percent, P = 0.011), a larger immediate increase in the diameter of the lumen (1.72 +/- 0.46 vs. 1.23 +/- 0.48 mm, P < 0.001), and a larger luminal diameter immediately after the procedure (2.49 +/- 0.43 vs. 1.99 +/- 0.47 mm, P < 0.001). At six months, the patients with stented lesions continued to have a larger luminal diameter (1.74 +/- 0.60 vs. 1.56 +/- 0.65 mm, P = 0.007) and a lower rate of restenosis (31.6 percent vs. 42.1 percent, P = 0.046) than those treated with balloon angioplasty. There were no coronary events (death; myocardial infarction; coronary-artery bypass surgery; vessel closure, including stent thrombosis; or repeated angioplasty) in 80.5 percent of the patients in the stent group and 76.2 percent of those in the angioplasty group (P = 0.16). Revascularization of the original target lesion because of recurrent myocardial ischemia was performed less frequently in the stent group than in the angioplasty group (10.2 percent vs. 15.4 percent, P = 0.06). In selected patients, placement of an intracoronary stent, as compared with balloon angioplasty, results in an improved rate of procedural success, a lower rate of angiographically detected restenosis, a similar rate of clinical events after six months, and a less frequent need for revascularization of the original coronary lesion.

            Author and article information

            Cardiovascular Institute, Sanatorio Migone-Battilana, Asunción, Paraguay, Departamento de Cardiología, Primera Catedra de Clínica Médica, Hospital de Clínicas, Universidad Nacional de Asunción
            Author notes
            [* ]Address correspondence to this author at the Associate Professor of Medicine Chief, Department of Cardiology First Department of Internal Medicine Asunción National University Trejo y Sanabria 1657, Sajonia Asunción, Paraguay; Tel: 595-21-421423; Fax: 595-21-421423; E-mail: osmarcenturion@
            Open Cardiovasc Med J
            The Open Cardiovascular Medicine Journal
            Bentham Open
            17 June 2010
            : 4
            : 135-145
            © Osmar Antonio Centurión; Licensee Bentham Open.

            This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.



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