Platelets and cardiovascular disease

Eur J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2002 Dec;1(4):273-88. doi: 10.1016/s1474-5151(02)00038-5.


Platelets play an important, but often under-recognized role in cardiovascular disease. For example, the normal response of the platelet can be altered, either by increased pro-aggregatory stimuli or by diminished anti-aggregatory substances to produce conditions of increased platelet activation/aggregation and occur in active cardiovascular disease states both on a chronic (e.g. stable angina pectoris) and acute basis (e.g. acute myocardial infarction). In addition, platelet hyperaggregability is also associated with the risk factors for coronary artery disease (e.g. smoking, hypertension, and hypercholesterolaemia). Finally, the utility of an increasing range of anti-platelet therapies in the management of the above disease states further emphasizes the pivotal role platelets play in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. This paper provides a comprehensive overview of the normal physiologic role of platelets in maintain homeostasis, the pathophysiologic processes that contribute to platelet dysfunction in cardiovascular disease and the associated role and benefits of anti-platelet therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Platelets / drug effects
  • Blood Platelets / physiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / therapy
  • Diabetes Complications
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / complications
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia / complications
  • Platelet Activating Factor / physiology
  • Platelet Activation / drug effects
  • Platelet Activation / physiology
  • Platelet Aggregation / drug effects
  • Platelet Aggregation / physiology
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Primary Prevention / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects


  • Platelet Activating Factor
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors