PARIS – Older patients with non-ST-elevation acute coronary syndrome who were assigned to 12 months of dual antiplatelet therapy with clopidogrel experienced significantly less major and minor bleeding than with ticagrelor or prasugrel and were similarly protected from thrombotic events in the prospective randomized POPular AGE trial, Marieke E. Gimbel, MD, reported at the annual congress of the European Society of Cardiology.
“Therefore, we consider clopidogrel the preferred treatment in patients age 70 or older with non-ST-elevation ACS,” said Dr. Gimbel, a cardiologist at St. Antonius Hospital in Nieuwegein, The Netherlands.
This stance is contrary to both the current ESC and U.S. guidelines on management of non-ST-elevation ACS, which preferentially recommend ticagrelor and prasugrel over clopidogrel, chiefly on the basis of the large PLATO () and TRITON TIMI 38 ( ) randomized trials. Those studies from the previous decade reported significantly lower rates of the composite endpoint of cardiovascular death, acute MI, or stroke in patients on ticagrelor or prasugrel, respectively, than with clopidogrel. But this benefit came at a cost of significantly higher rates of TIMI major bleeding than with clopidogrel, and multiple studies have shown that major bleeding in ACS patients is associated with a sharply increased risk of death.
Bleeding is an issue of particular concern in the elderly. But older patients were greatly underrepresented in PLATO and TRITON, where they comprised just 13%-15% of participants, even though registry studies would suggest older individuals make up about 35% of all patients with non-ST-elevation ACS. Selective inclusion of elderly patients in the major trials means those study results can’t legitimately be extrapolated to the entire elderly patient population.
“The best course of action in the elderly has been unclear,” Dr. Gimbel argued.