Direct Thrombin Inhibitors in Cardiac Disease
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Most acute coronary syndromes (ACS) are triggered by platelet-rich thrombus superimposed on disrupted atherosclerotic plaque. Thrombin and platelets both play a role in this process. Whereas unfractionated heparin and aspirin have served as cornerstones in the treatment of ACS, several limitations of heparin provide the impetus to seek out better anticoagulants. Direct thrombin inhibitors such as bivalirudin, hirudin, and argatroban offer several pharmacologic advantages over heparin. Additionally, bivalirudin also appears to provide clinical advantages over unfractionated heparin therapy in ACS patients and those undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention.
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