14 Antithrombotic treatment of cerebrovascular disease
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The most common type of cerebrovascular disease is ischaemia or infarction from atherothrombosis or cardiac embolism. Antithrombotic treatment with an antiplatelet agent or anticoagulant assumes a prior clinical classification into categories of transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or minor stroke, acute partial stable stroke, stroke-in-progression, and completed stroke. Aspirin reduces the risk of stroke, myocardial infarction, and death after TIA or minor stroke secondary to atherothrombosis. Aspirin is effective in both sexes at a dose of 300 or 1200 mg/day. Ticlopidine (500 mg/day), a new antiplatelet agent, is more effective than aspirin in preventing stroke and death in patients with TIA or minor stroke. Ticlopidine (500 mg/day) is effective in preventing recurrent stroke, myocardial infarction, or vascular death in patients with completed stroke. Aspirin has not been directly shown to be effective after completed stroke. No clear evidence exists for the use of anticoagulants in atherothrombotic cerebral vascular disease in patients presenting with TIA or minor stroke, acute partial stable stroke, stroke-in-progression, or completed stroke. Anticoagulation for rheumatic valvular heart disease is effective in preventing recurrent embolism. Long-term anticoagulation of patients with mechanical prosthetic valves protects against initial embolism and prevents recurrent embolism. The addition of aspirin (500-1000 mg/day) to warfarin reduces the rate of cerebral embolism from mechanical prosthetic heart valves but is associated with increased bleeding. The addition of dipyridamole (400 mg/day) to warfarin may be more effective than aspirin in reducing the rate of cerebral embolism from mechanical prosthetic heart valves and has fewer bleeding side-effects. Anticoagulation during the hospital phase of myocardial infarction reduces the incidence of systemic embolism/stroke. Long-term anticoagulation of patients after the hospital phase of myocardial infarction reduces the incidence of systemic embolism/stroke, recurrent myocardial infarction and death. Prophylactic anticoagulant treatment of patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation reduces the incidence of embolism, but the optimal duration of treatment is not known. Immediate anticoagulation of patients with completed cardioembolic stroke is safe and effective in preventing recurrent embolism.
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