"The fact that a statistically significant reduction was not found has a lot to do with the fact that the studies were clinically underpowered," McDermott said. "Antiplatelet therapy should be used for atherosclerosis, and aspirin is certainly the cheapest antiplatelet therapy for PAD."
Antiplatelet therapy is directed at platelets, the blood cells that clump together to form clots that block arteries.
A larger study of antiplatelet therapy such as aspirin in PAD is needed to resolve any doubts, Krantz said. And, in fact, such a study is nearing completion, McDermott said. It is being done in Europe, and its leader has said that results should be available by the end of August, McDermott added.
Meanwhile, what are doctors and people with PAD to do? Pretty much what they have been doing, Krantz said.
"What I do for patients with heart disease is use aspirin," Krantz said. "For those with stroke, I use aspirin. For PAD, we vary it -- sometimes aspirin, sometimes Plavix. But even now, evidence for those combinations has not been proven. We don't know the optimum regimen for patients with PAD."
Plavix is a commonly used prescription drug used to prevent clotting.
"We don't think that anyone with PAD should be stopping their aspirin," said study author Dr. Jeffrey S. Berger, a cardiology fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. "But we need more data to show benefit with 100 percent certainty. It is well known that people with PAD need antiplatelet therapy, but it's unclear what the appropriate agent should be. It is a question that all patients need to address with their health-care providers."
Learn all about PAD from the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: Mori J. Krantz, M.D., associate pr
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