Applying contemporary antithrombotic therapy in the secondary prevention of chronic atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease
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For 4 decades, antithrombotic therapy with aspirin has been a cornerstone of secondary prevention for patients with chronic atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). Unfortunately, despite the use of evidence-based therapies, patients with ASCVD continue to have recurrent major adverse cardiovascular events including death, myocardial infarction, and stroke-at a rate of approximately 2%-4% per year. To combat this continuing risk, several recent trials have evaluated the efficacy and safety of more intensive antithrombotic strategies through prolonged dual antiplatelet therapy (DAPT), combining a P2Y12 receptor antagonists and low-dose aspirin, or alternatively applying a dual pathway inhibition approach, combining low-dose non-vitamin K antagonist anticoagulant and low-dose aspirin. Both combination strategies have been shown to reduce recurrent ischemic events but at the cost of increased bleeding events. The clinical application of these antithrombotic strategies requires clinicians to assess and balance the risk of recurrent ischemic and bleeding events in an individual patient. Furthermore, clinicians may also need to adapt their antithrombotic strategies to achieve best patient outcomes, as ASCVD is a progressive disease and the risks of cardiovascular ischemic and bleeding events may shift over time. This state-of-the-art article reviews evidence from the trials and provides a practical approach to the application of DAPT and dual pathway antithrombotic therapy in the long-term management of patients with chronic ASCVD.