Background While dual antiplatelet therapy (dAPT) is standard of care following carotid artery stenting (CAS), the optimal dAPT regimen and duration has not been established.
Methods We canvassed a large national database (IBM MarketScan) to identify patients receiving carotid endarterectomy (CEA) or CAS for treatment of ischemic stroke or carotid artery stenosis from 2007 to 2016. We performed univariable and multivariable regression methods to evaluate the impact of covariates on post-CAS stroke-free survival, including post-discharge antiplatelet therapy.
Results A total of 79 084 patients diagnosed with ischemic stroke or carotid stenosis received CEA (71 178; 90.0%) or CAS (7906; 10.0%). After adjusting for covariates, <180 days prescribed post-CAS P2Y12-inhibition was associated with increased risk for stroke (<90 prescribed days HR=1.421, 95% CI 1.038 to 1.946; 90–179 prescribed days HR=1.484, 95% CI 1.045 to 2.106). The incidence of hemorrhagic complications was higher during the period of prescribed P2Y12-inhibition (1.16% per person-month vs 0.49% per person-month after discontinuation, P<0.001). The rate of extracranial hemorrhage was nearly six-fold higher while on dAPT (6.50% per patient-month vs 1.16% per patient-month, P<0.001), and there was a trend towards higher rate of intracranial hemorrhage that did not reach statistical significance (5.09% per patient-month vs 3.69% per patient-month, P=0.0556). Later hemorrhagic events beyond 30 days post-CAS were significantly more likely to be extracranial (P=0.028).
Conclusions Increased duration of post-CAS dAPT is associated with lower rates of readmissions for stroke, and with increased risk of hemorrhagic complications, particularly extracranial hemorrhage. The potential benefit of prolonging dAPT with regard to ischemic complications must be balanced with the corresponding increased risk of predominantly extracranial hemorrhagic complications.
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ESS and MJ contributed equally.
Contributors ESS: all aspects of manuscript production, including planning, conduct, reporting, conception and design, acquisition of data or analysis, and interpretation of data. MJ: conduct and acquisition of data and analysis, and interpretation of data. AVP: planning and design of data, and analysis and interpretation of data. BP: planning and design of data, and analysis and interpretation of data. AF: conduct, reporting and acquisition of data, and analysis. JJH: planning and design of data and analysis, and interpretation of data. NAT: planning and design of data and analysis, and interpretation of data.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement Data are available in a public, open access repository. All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.