PHOENIX – Post hoc analysis of the randomized TWILIGHT trial comparing ticagrelor alone with ticagrelor plus aspirin in high-risk patients after percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) shows both regimens were similarly effective in preventing repeat revascularization after 1 year.
In TWILIGHT, the main findings of which werein the New England Journal of Medicine, 7,119 high-risk PCI patients on standard dual antiplatelet therapy (DAPT) of ticagrelor plus aspirin for 3 months were randomized to continuation of DAPT or to ticagrelor plus placebo for 12 months.
The new post hoc analysis included 6,759 patients and shows the rates of clinically driven revascularization were similar between the two groups: 7.1% and 6.6% for the ticagrelor monotherapy and ticagrelor-based DAPT groups, respectively (P = .363).
The findings were presented at the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography & Interventions annual scientific sessions.
Three key findings come from the post hoc analysis, Usman Baber, MD, director of the cardiac catheterization lab and associate professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, who presented the findings, said in an interview.
“The first is that, over the 1-year follow-up of our trial, we found that a repeat revascularization event occurred in 6.7% of patients,” he said. “We found that a slight majority of these repeat revascularization events were due to events at the target lesion or target vessel; and we found that most of the repeat revascularization events actually occurred in patients without a concomitant acute coronary syndrome. In other words, these were essentially stable patients when they were getting their repeat revascularization.”
The second major finding was that these high-risk patients who had repeat revascularization were at three times greater risk for major adverse cardiac and cerebrovascular events (MACCE), based on a multivariable adjusted model, Dr. Baber said.
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The goal of the analysis was to focus on clinically driven repeat revascularization as an outcome, Dr. Baber said. The analysis also aimed to understand the association between repeat revascularization and subsequent risk.
Secondary endpoints included target lesion revascularization (TLR); target vessel revascularization (TVR); MACCE, including clinically driven revascularization; and net adverse clinical events (NACE), a composite of MACCE or Bleeding Academic Research Consortium (BARC) 2, 3, or 5 bleeding.
The outcomes of all those endpoints, except for NACE, were similar, Dr. Baber said. “Overall, ticagrelor monotherapy, as expected, reduced rates of bleeding as compared with ticagrelor plus aspirin,” he said. The rates of NACE were 12.2% versus 14.6%, respectively (P = .004). For BARC 2,3, or 5 bleeding, the rates were 3.4% versus 7.1% (P < .001).
The findings validated repeat revascularization as a meaningful endpoint, Dr. Baber said. “Certainly, we don’t elevate repeat revascularization as an endpoint to the same level as death or stroke, but certainly this analysis and some others prior to it highlight the fact that when these patients come back for repeat revascularization, even if they’re stable, they clearly are at elevated risk for future ischemic events,” he said.
One limitation of the analysis is that the data are from a clinical trial, “which renders the findings not as generalizable to the broader patients in a clinical practice,” he said. However, the TWILIGHT data are validated and adjusted for multiple risk factors.
“When patients come in and they have a repeat revascularization, should there be a consideration to placing them on more intensive antithrombotic therapy?” he asked. “Right now, if patients have a repeat revascularization event and they’re stable, guidelines and clinical practice usually calls for continuing clopidogrel, but again our study and others like it indicate these patients are at a higher thrombotic risk, so maybe there’s a rationale for at least a short course of a more potent antiplatelet agent in such patients.”
The post hoc findings confirm those of the primary TWILIGHT trial, Lorenzo Azzalini, MD, PhD, MSc, director of interventional cardiology research at the University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, said in an interview.
“It’s not surprising to find no difference between the two therapies with regard to unplanned revascularization,” he said. “It’s considered that only stent thrombosis can only actually be mitigated by the drugs being investigated in the trial; all the other ischemic endpoints reflect more chronic ischemia—TLR or known TVR—upon which ticagrelor and aspirin do not play any role.”
However, he added, “I still think this study provides useful information to the community in a period of intense scrutiny on the relative benefits and merits of PCI versus CABG [coronary artery bypass graft], and this study confirms that shortening DAPT to 3 months and then continuing with just ticagrelor does not bring any penalty in terms of ischemic events or repeat revascularization.”
TWILIGHT enrolled high-risk patients, but not “very-high-risk” patients, Dr. Azzalini noted. The enrollment criteria excluded patients on chronic anticoagulation, who had a prior stroke or liver sclerosis, or were on dialysis.
“Future trials should focus more on very-high-risk patients because these are the patients that we deal with on a daily basis in our clinical practice and we need data to inform our decisions,” he said. “I’m not sure I could use the science contained in this study and extrapolate them to patients on dialysis because these patients really have a high risk of restenosis on follow-up.”
Dr. Baber disclosed relationships with Amgen and Abbott. Dr. Azzalini had no relevant disclosures.