Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the US. For patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), urgent reperfusion of the culprit arterial occlusion, often achieved via primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), reduces post-MI mortality and other major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE). Adjunctive antithrombotic and antiplatelet therapies are used during PCI to reduce MACE rates. Currently, a variety of antithrombotic options are available for peri-procedural use. The most commonly used agents include unfractionated heparin or low molecular weight heparin ± glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors (GPI). These agents reduce the rates of peri-procedural ischemic and thrombotic events, though these benefits come at the cost of an increase in bleeding complications. Bivalirudin is a direct thrombin inhibitor with a short half-life and linear pharmacokinetics, which results in predictable serum concentrations and anticoagulant effect. Bivalirudin has emerged as an efficacious and safe alternative to heparin plus GP IIb/IIIa inhibitors in both stable coronary artery disease and acute coronary syndrome patients. In the HORIZONS-AMI trial, monotherapy with bivalirudin was compared with the combination of heparin and a GPI in a large population of patients with STEMI who underwent primary PCI. Bivalirudin treatment was associated with improved event-free survival at 30 days and reduced rates of major bleeding. Based on the results of the trial, the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association and European Society of Cardiology guidelines have incorporated recommendations for bivalirudin use in the setting of STEMI. Recently, 3-year follow-up data from the HORIZONS-AMI cohort were published, demonstrating sustained benefits in patients treated with bivalirudin, including reduced rates of mortality, cardiovascular mortality, reinfarction, and major bleeding events. These results further support the use of bivalirudin in the setting of primary PCI for STEMI given that its benefits are maintained through long-term follow-up.
Keywords: PCI; ST-elevation myocardial infarction; acute coronary syndrome; antithrombotic; bivalirudin.