Antithrombotic Therapy in Peripheral Artery Disease: Risk Stratification and Clinical Decision Making
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Patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD) are an underrecognised group with significant thrombotic risk. This risk is modifiable with the use of aggressive secondary preventative efforts, including optimisation of antithrombotic therapy. Appropriate antithrombotic selection for patients with PAD requires appropriate assessment of thrombotic and bleeding risk. Recent Canadian guidelines have recommended dual pathway therapy initiation for stable PAD and post-revascularisation patients. However, there is ongoing discussion about how to identify PAD patients who stand to benefit most from these therapies while trying to minimise harm from bleeding. Clinical equipoise also persists around questions such as the utility of dual antiplatelet therapy in conjunction with rivaroxaban after high-risk endovascular interventions and the optimal therapy for patients experiencing acute limb ischemia. In patients with chronic PAD and high-risk comorbidities or limb features, or in patients after revascularisation, dual pathway therapy with low-dose rivaroxaban and aspirin has emerged as the only regimen to reduce major adverse cardiovascular and limb events while maintaining an acceptable bleeding profile. After endovascular revascularisation, limited-duration (< 30 days) clopidogrel may be added to rivaroxaban and aspirin in selected high-risk patients at the provider's discretion. After acute limb ischemia, the risk of another vascular event is exceptionally high, but there is no high-quality evidence to guide decision making for intensified antithrombotic therapy. Randomised investigations addressing this question are urgently needed to better serve this high-risk and vulnerable population.
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