Mislav Vrsalovic and Victor Aboyans* Pages 1 - 8 ( 8 )
Lower extremity artery disease (LEAD) is a marker of a more advanced atherosclerotic process often affecting multiple vascular beds beyond the lower limbs, with a consequent increased risk for all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Antithrombotic therapy is the cornerstone of management of these patients to prevent ischaemic cardiovascular and limb events and death. In patients with symptomatic LEAD, the efficacy of aspirin has been established long ago for the prevention of cardiovascular events. In the current guidelines, clopidogrel may be preferred over aspirin following its incremental ability to prevent cardiovascular events, while ticagrelor is not superior to clopidogrel in reducing cardiovascular outcomes. Dual antiplatelet therapy (DAPT, aspirin with clopidogrel) is currently recommended for at least 1 month after endovascular interventions irrespective of the stent type. Antiplatelet monotherapy is recommended after infra-inguinal bypass surgery, and DAPT may be considered in below-the-knee bypass with a prosthetic graft. In symptomatic LEAD the addition of anticoagulant (vitamin K antagonists) to antiplatelet therapy increased the risk of major and life-threatening bleeding without benefit regarding cardiovascular outcomes. In a recent trial, low dose of direct oral anticoagulant rivaroxaban plus aspirin showed promising results, not only to reduce death and major cardiovascular events, but also major limb events including amputation. Yet, this option should be considered especially in very high risk patients, after considering also the bleeding risk. Despite all the evidence accumulated since >40 years, many patients with LEAD remain undertreated and deserve close attention and implementation of guidelines advocating the use of antithrombotic therapies, tailored according to their level of risk.
lower extremity artery disease, peripheral arterial disease, antiplatelet therapy, antithrombotic therapy, direct oral anticoagulants.
University of Zagreb School of Medicine, Zagreb, Department of Cardiology, Dupuytren University Hospital Centre, Limoges