Conference Coverage

After PCI, stopping antiplatelet therapy for surgery appears safe



– Following a percutaneous intervention with a second-generation drug-eluting stent, a judicious interruption of antiplatelet therapy for noncardiac surgery does not increase risk of net adverse clinical events, according to a large dataset presented at CRT 2020 sponsored by MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute.

Dr. Jung-Sun Kim, professor of medicine, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea Ted Bosworth/MDedge News

Dr. Jung-Sun Kim

Drawn from a multicenter registry in South Korea, it is likely that those in whom antiplatelet therapy was stopped during the perioperative period were at a lower relative risk, but the data remain reassuring, according to Jung-Sun Kim, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea.

In the registry of patients with a second-generation drug-eluting stent (DES) undergoing noncardiac surgery, “antiplatelet therapy was discontinued in almost half of the patients,” Dr. Kim reported. When these patients were compared with those who did not discontinue antiplatelet therapy, the data, called an “exploratory analysis,” suggested “no increased risk” of a composite of major adverse cardiac events (MACE) or major bleeding.

The retrospective analysis involved 3,582 percutaneous intervention (PCI) patients who had received a second-generation DES and subsequently underwent noncardiac surgery. In 1,750 of these patients, antiplatelet therapy was temporarily discontinued. The remaining 1,832 remained on some form of antiplatelet treatment, whether aspirin, a P2Y12 inhibitor, or dual-antiplatelet therapy.

There were no significant differences in crude rates between groups in rates at 30 days of a composite endpoint of MACE, major bleeding as defined by the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis, or net adverse clinical events (NACE), a composite of adverse events that included MACE and major bleeding.

Relative risks for antiplatelet discontinuation remained generally low even after multiple stratifications performed to explore different variables, including the types of antiplatelet therapy being taken at the time of discontinuation, the types of noncardiac surgery performed, and the duration of discontinuation.

Of these variables, the interval of discontinuation appeared to be most relevant. Antiplatelet discontinuation of 3 days or less appeared to be associated with a higher risk of bleeding, although the difference did not reach significance. Discontinuations of 9 days or more were associated with increased risk of MACE, and this difference did reach statistical significance (hazard ratio, 3.38; 95% confidence interval, 1.36-8.38).

“Discontinuation of antiplatelet therapy for a period of 4-8 days appears to be optimal,” Dr. Kim said.

In general, risk of MACE, major bleeding, or NACE could not be linked to type of surgery, with the exception of intra-abdominal surgery. For this procedure, there appeared to be a lower risk of MACE in those who discontinued relative to those who remained on antiplatelet therapy, Dr. Kim reported.

Importantly, because of the fact that the decision to stop antiplatelet treatment was made by treating physicians, the characteristics of those who discontinued or remained on antiplatelet therapy differed meaningfully. Specifically, those in the discontinuation group were younger and were less likely to have additional risks for thrombotic events such as diabetes or chronic kidney disease. In those who discontinued antiplatelets, the average time since PCI was 23 months versus 16 months in the continuation group.

In addition, “more of the patients underwent higher-risk surgeries in the discontinuation group,” Dr. Kim added.

Relative rates of MACE and NACE remained similar even after risk adjustment, but Dr. Kim advised that the data should be “interpreted cautiously” because of the retrospective nature of the analysis.

A panel of experts invited to comment on the presentation agreed. These data were considered reassuring for clinicians considering an interruption of antiplatelet therapy following PCI with a second-generation DES, but there was uncertainty about their value for defining which patients are the best candidates.

The decision to discontinue antiplatelet drugs for noncardiac surgery is an important and common dilemma, but these data might be best characterized as “a testament to Korean cardiologists making good decisions,” said David J. Moliterno, MD, chairman of the department of medicine at University of Kentucky Health Care, Lexington.

Dr. Kim reported no potential financial conflicts of interest.

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