Background: Carotid artery stenting is being used as an alternative to carotid endarterectomy, both within the context of clinical trials and in non-surgical candidates. Though stenting is known to activate platelets, the role of antithrombotic therapy in carotid stenting has not been fully characterized.
Methods and results: Consecutive patients (n = 162) were followed in a single-center carotid stent registry. The cumulative rate of 30-day death, stroke, transient ischemic attack and myocardial infarction in those patients receiving a thienopyridine was determined, as were rates of stent thrombosis and intracranial hemorrhage. The mean age of the patients was 70.3 years and there was an extremely high prevalence of cardiovascular comorbidities, including 40% with unstable angina. The carotid lesion was symptomatic in 59% of patients. The average pre-treatment stenosis was 83%. The cumulative 30-day rate of death, stroke, transient ischemic attack and myocardial infarction was 5.6%. Specifically, in the patients who received ticlopidine (n = 23), the rate was 13%, versus 4.3% in the patients who received clopidogrel (n = 139) (p = 0.01). In this series, there were no cases of stent thrombosis and 1 intracranial hemorrhage.
Conclusion: Dual antiplatelet therapy with clopidogrel plus aspirin in patients receiving carotid artery stents is associated with a low rate of ischemic events. Furthermore, clopidogrel appears superior to ticlopidine. Thus, our findings lend support to the dual antiplatelet strategy of clopidogrel plus aspirin for patients undergoing carotid artery stenting.