Cardiopulmonary MedicineReview Article

Role of Antiplatelet Therapy in Stroke Prevention in Patients With Atrial Fibrillation

Rohini Manaktala, DO, and Jeffrey Kluger, MD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: August 4, 2017

Accepted: August 9, 2017

Published: December 1, 2017

J Osteopath Med; 117(12): 761-771

Patients with atrial fibrillation are at increased risk of having a cardioembolic stroke. The use of oral anticoagulation is now well established to prevent strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation and a CHA2DS2-VASc (congestive heart failure, hypertension, age ≥75 years [2 points], diabetes mellitus, prior stroke/transient ischemic attack or thromboembolism [2 points], vascular disease, age 65 to 74 years, and sex category) score of greater than 1, beyond sex. However, the role of antiplatelet therapy, specifically aspirin in low-risk patients or as an alternative to oral anticoagulation, remains controversial. The most recent US guidelines conflict with the European guidelines, which do not recommend antiplatelet monotherapy for stroke prevention irrespective of stroke risk. The aim of this review is to summarize published studies that question the role of aspirin in preventing strokes associated with atrial fibrillation. Overall, aspirin is found to play a limited role in the prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation and is associated with a similar risk of hemorrhagic events compared with anticoagulants. The benefit of dual antiplatelet therapy as an alternative to oral anticoagulation requires further study.

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