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First 90 Days After Stopping Plavix Most Dangerous
Date:2/5/2008

Study finds highest risk of adverse events for heart patients is in early period

TUESDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- New research finds that the first three months after heart patients stop taking the clot-preventing drug Plavix are the most dangerous.

"This is the first study to make this observation," said Dr. P. Michael Ho, a cardiologist at the Denver VA Medical Center and lead author of a report in the Feb. 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. "We need additional studies to confirm it, and see whether and why there is an increase in adverse events after stopping."

The study does not address the issue of how long Plavix (clopidogrel) may safely be taken, said Ho, who is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado. The current recommendation is that it should be used for nine months after a heart attack and 12 months after a stent is implanted to help an artery stay open.

"We looked at people who took different lengths of clopidogrel treatment," Ho said. "We found a twofold increase in risk in the 90-day period after stopping for those who [took it] less than six months or greater than nine months. For those who took clopidogrel longer than 12 months or 15 months, we could not calculate the increased risk because we did not have enough patients."

Ho and his colleagues assessed the incidence and timing of death or acute heart attacks in 3,137 people discharged from 127 VA hospitals who were taking Plavix after an acute coronary syndrome event, such as a heart attack. The average time of Plavix treatment was 302 days.

Analysis found the incidence of adverse events was higher in the 90 days after the medication was stopped than in the 91 to 180 days after cessation.

"This is going to get a lot of attention, both from doctors and the medical community at large, because clopidogrel is such a widely used drug," said Dr. Deepak Bhatt, asso
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