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Plavix Plus Aspirin Lowers Stroke Risk
Date:3/31/2009

Clot-busting combo can boost outcomes for patients with atrial fibrillation, study finds

TUESDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- Combining the clot-preventing drug Plavix with aspirin is an effective substitute treatment for people at high risk of stroke and heart attack because of the abnormal heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation but who cannot take the recommended therapy, a new study shows.

Standard treatment for atrial fibrillation, in which substandard heart action can lead to the formation of artery-blocking clots, is the anticoagulant warfarin (Coumadin). But at least 40 percent of the more than 2 million Americans with atrial fibrillation do not take the drug, Dr. Stuart Connolly, director of cardiology at McMaster University in Canada, said at the annual scientific session of the American College of Cardiology, in Orlando, Fla.

Some are vulnerable to the increased risk of bleeding caused by Coumadin, but many just can't stand the dietary restrictions and frequent blood tests required of users. Until now, the only alternative therapy has been aspirin, which has a clot-preventing effect.

Connolly led a trial that tested the combination of Plavix (clopidogrel) and aspirin. It involved 7,554 people with atrial fibrillation and at least one risk factor for stroke. All took aspirin daily, and half also took 75 milligrams a day of Plavix.

Among those who took the combination, "the incidence of major vascular events was reduced by 11 percent, which was a highly significant result," Connolly said.

The main effect of the combination was to reduce the incidence of stroke by about a third, from 3.4 percent to 2.4 percent a year, Connolly said. The incidence of heart attacks was reduced from 0.9 percent a year to 0.7 percent a year, a result that was not statistically significant, he said.

The incidence of major bleeding, such as hemorrhaging, was higher among those taking the combinatio
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