Background: Clopidogrel was superior to aspirin in patients with previous manifestations of atherothrombotic disease in the CAPRIE study and its benefit was amplified in some high-risk subgroups of patients. We aimed to assess whether addition of aspirin to clopidogrel could have a greater benefit than clopidogrel alone in prevention of vascular events with potentially higher bleeding risk.
Methods: We did a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to compare aspirin (75 mg/day) with placebo in 7599 high-risk patients with recent ischaemic stroke or transient ischaemic attack and at least one additional vascular risk factor who were already receiving clopidogrel 75 mg/day. Duration of treatment and follow-up was 18 months. The primary endpoint was a composite of ischaemic stroke, myocardial infarction, vascular death, or rehospitalisation for acute ischaemia (including rehospitalisation for transient ischaemic attack, angina pectoris, or worsening of peripheral arterial disease). Analysis was by intention to treat, using logrank test and a Cox's proportional-hazards model.
Findings: 596 (15.7%) patients reached the primary endpoint in the group receiving aspirin and clopidogrel compared with 636 (16.7%) in the clopidogrel alone group (relative risk reduction 6.4%, [95% CI -4.6 to 16.3]; absolute risk reduction 1% [-0.6 to 2.7]). Life-threatening bleedings were higher in the group receiving aspirin and clopidogrel versus clopidogrel alone (96 [2.6%] vs 49 [1.3%]; absolute risk increase 1.3% [95% CI 0.6 to 1.9]). Major bleedings were also increased in the group receiving aspirin and clopidogrel but no difference was recorded in mortality.
Interpretation: Adding aspirin to clopidogrel in high-risk patients with recent ischaemic stroke or transient ischaemic attack is associated with a non-significant difference in reducing major vascular events. However, the risk of life-threatening or major bleeding is increased by the addition of aspirin.