Opportunities for improvement in anti-thrombotic therapy and other strategies for the management of acute coronary syndromes: Insights from EPICOR, an international study of current practice patterns

Eur Heart J Acute Cardiovasc Care. 2016 Feb;5(1):3-12. doi: 10.1177/2048872614565912. Epub 2015 Jan 5.


Aims: To describe international patterns and opportunities for improvement of pre- and in-hospital care of patients hospitalized for acute coronary syndromes (ACS), with special focus on anti-thrombotic therapy.

Methods and results: EPICOR (long-tErm follow-uP of anti-thrombotic management patterns In acute CORonary syndrome patients), an international, cohort study, which enrolled 10,568 consecutive ACS survivors from 555 hospitals in 20 countries across Europe and Latin America (September 2010 to March 2011), prospectively registered detailed information on pre- and in-hospital management. Globally, 4738 (44.8%) were attended before hospitalization, 4241 (40.1%) had an ECG, 2119 (20%) received anti-platelet therapy and 101 STEMI patients (2%) fibrinolysis. In-hospital, 7944 patients (75.2%) received dual anti-platelet therapy, most often with clopidogrel (69.7%), and less with prasugrel (5.4%); 1705 (16.1%) had triple anti-platelet therapy, and 849 (8%) single anti-platelet therapy. STEMI patients more often received pre-hospital anti-thrombotics, and prasugrel, GP IIb/IIIa inhibitors and UFH in-hospital (all p < 0.001). More NSTE-ACS patients received clopidogrel, single anti-platelet therapy, and fondaparinux (all p < 0.001). As many as 33% of ACS patients were medically managed. A significant decreasing gradient was found between Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe and Latin America in use of more potent patterns of anti-platelet therapy, reperfusion therapy and invasive strategy.

Conclusion: This large international study shows room for improvement in use of anti-thrombotic drugs and other strategies for optimal management of ACS, including pre-hospital ECG and anti-thrombotic therapy. Regional practice differences not based on evidence or conditioned by economic constraints should be reduced.

Keywords: Acute coronary syndromes; anti-coagulants; anti-platelet drugs; real-world.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Care
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Platelet Glycoprotein GPIIb-IIIa Complex / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality Improvement


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors
  • Platelet Glycoprotein GPIIb-IIIa Complex