Antithrombotic Treatment for Peripheral Arterial Occlusive Disease

Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2021 Aug 9;118(31-32):528-535. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.m2021.0157.


Background: Patients with peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAOD) are at ele - vated risk for cardiovascular events and vascular events affecting the limbs. The goals of antithrombotic treatment are to keep vessels open after revascularization, to prevent cardiovascular events, and to lessen the frequency of peripheral ischemia and of amputation.

Methods: This review is based on pertinent publications retrieved by a selective literature search, with particular attention to meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials, and the German and European angiological guidelines.

Results: Diabetes mellitus and nicotine abuse are the main risk factors for lower limb PAOD. The evidence for the efficacy and safety of antithrombotic treatment in patients with PAOD is limited, in particular, after surgical or endovascular revascularization. Intensifying antithrombotic treatment with stronger antiplatelet therapy (APT), dual antiplatelet therapy (DAPT), or antiplatelet therapy combined with anticoagulation lowers the rate of peripheral revascularization (relative risk [RR] 0.89; 95% confidence interval [0.83; 0.94]), amputation (RR 0.63; [0.46; 0.86]), and stroke (RR 0.82; [0.70; 0.97]) but raises the risk of bleeding (RR 1.23; [1.04; 1.44]). Pre - dictors for peripheral vascular events include critical limb ischemia and having previously undergone a revascularization procedure or an amputation.

Conclusion: Antiplatelet therapy should only be intensified for a limited time, or if the risk of ischemia is high. Before and during intensified antiplatelet therapy, the risk of bleeding should be assessed and weighed against the risk of ischemia. No validated score is available to estimate the risk of hemorrhagic complications in patients with PAOD. New antithrombotic therapies should not be used indiscriminately, but should rather be reserved for selected groups of patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amputation, Surgical
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases* / surgery
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease* / drug therapy
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease* / surgery
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors