Managing antithrombotic therapy in patients with both atrial fibrillation and coronary heart disease

Peter Thompson, F.W.A. Verheugt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


© 2014, Elsevier HS Journals, Inc. All rights reserved. Purpose: Atrial fibrillation (AF) and coronary heart disease (CHD) commonly occur together. Previous consensus guidelines were published before the wide availability of novel oral anticoagulants (NOACs) and newer P2Y12 antiplatelet agents. We examine recent evidence to guide management in 3 categories of patients with AF and CHD: patients with stable CHD, nonstented patients with recent acute coronary syndrome, and patients with a coronary stent requiring dual-antiplatelet therapy. Methods: We conducted a literature search by evaluation of PubMed and other data sources including international meeting reports. We critically reviewed recent clinical trial and relevant registry evidence to update European and US consensus documents. Findings: Oral anticoagulation with warfarin or NOACs is required to prevent embolic stroke in AF, and antiplatelet therapy is insufficient for this purpose. Antiplatelet therapy using monotherapy with aspirin is the standard of care in stable CHD. Dualantiplatelet therapy with aspirin and clopidogrel or a new P2Y12 inhibitor (dual-antiplatelet therapy) is needed to reduce coronary events after an acute coronary syndrome or after percutaneous coronary intervention. Combinations of these agents increase the risk of bleeding, and limited clinical trial evidence suggests that withdrawal of aspirin may reduce bleeding without increasing coronary events. Implications: Available clinical trials and registries provide remarkably little evidence to guide difficult clinical decision making in patients with combined AF and CHD. In patients on triple antithrombotic therapy with vitamin K antagonists, aspirin, and clopidogrel, a single clinical trial indicates that withdrawal of aspirin may reduce bleeding risk without increasing the risk of coronary thrombosis. It is unclear whether this evidence applies to combinations of NOACs and newer P2Y12 inhibitors. Clinical trials of combinations of the newer antithrombotic agents are urgently needed to guide clinical care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1176-1181
JournalClinical Therapeutics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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