Background: Endarterectomy benefits certain patients with carotid stenosis, but benefits are lessened by perioperative surgical risk. Acetylsalicylic acid lowers the risk of stroke in patients who have experienced transient ischaemic attack and stroke. We investigated appropriate doses and the role of acetylsalicylic acid in patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy.
Methods: In a randomised, double-blind, controlled trial, 2849 patients scheduled for endarterectomy were randomly assigned 81 mg (n=709), 325 mg (n=708), 650 mg (n=715), or 1300 mg (n=717) acetylsalicylic acid daily, started before surgery and continued for 3 months. We recorded occurrences of stroke, myocardial infarction, and death. We compared patients on the two higher doses of acetylsalicylic acid with patients on the two lower doses.
Findings: Surgery was cancelled in 45 patients, none were lost to follow-up by 30 days, and two were lost by 3 months. The combined rate of stroke, myocardial infarction, and death was lower in the low-dose groups than in the high-dose groups at 30 days (5.4 vs 7.0%, p=0.07) and at 3 months (6.2 vs 8.4%, p=0.03). In an efficacy analysis, which excluded patients taking 650 mg or more acetylsalicylic acid before randomisation, and patients randomised within 1 day of surgery, combined rates were 3.7% and 8.2%, respectively, at 30 days (p=0.002) and 4.2% and 10.0% at 3 months (p=0.0002).
Interpretation: The risk of stroke, myocardial infarction, and death within 30 days and 3 months of endarterectomy is lower for patients taking 81 mg or 325 mg acetylsalicylic acid daily than for those taking 650 mg or 1300 mg.