BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:
Oral anticoagulation (OAC) and antiplatelet drugs are effective in the secondary prevention of ischemic cerebrovascular events. Only few data exist about the factors influencing the choice of a specific therapy for secondary prevention in patients with a recent stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).
Within a cross-sectional study, nested in a cohort we identified 931 patients with a recent ischemic stroke or TIA who were discharged with OAC or with one of the antiplatelet medications aspirin, clopidogrel, or the combination of aspirin and extended-release dipyridamole. By means of multivariate logistic regression analysis, we determined the influence of several clinical variables on the decision between OAC and overall antiplatelet therapy as well as on the decision between different antiplatelet therapies.
A cardioembolic etiology of the index event and atrial fibrillation were independently associated with the use of OAC. Age was inversely associated with the use of OAC. Different estimations of contraindications to OAC were the main reason for the considerable variability among the participating centers. The most important factor promoting the use of clopidogrel was therapy with aspirin before the index event. Patients with large- or small-vessel disease received clopidogrel more often than those with an event of undetermined etiology. We found an extremely high interhospital variability for the use of the combination of aspirin with extended-release dipyridamole.
Current recommendations are applied in clinical practice, but great variability between different centers remains. More clearly defined guidelines for indications for, as well as contraindications against, a specific therapy are necessary.