A joint advisory from the American Heart Association, the American College ofCardiology, the Society of Vascular Angiography and Interventions, the AmericanCollege of Surgeons, and the American Dental Association recommends continuingdual antiplatelet therapy for at least 1 year after placement of drug-elutingstents (DES). This recommendation comes in the wake of evidence that showedthat patients with DES may be at risk of heart attack or death if therapy usingaspirin and a thienopyridine is stopped early. The advisory targets all health careproviders, not just cardiologists, who are typically not the providers who stop therapy—antiplatelet drugs are most often stopped by primary care providers, dentists,surgeons, or patients themselves. The joint statement was issued in the hopethat the message regarding this issue would be delivered to a wider audience.Eight key points are addressed in the advisory, which is available in the Januaryissue of Circulation at www.circulationaha.org.
Pharmacists can play an important role by monitoring adherence and educatingpatients so that they understand the importance of continuing antiplatelet therapyfor the recommended length of time.
Dr. Garrett is a clinical pharmacistpractitioner at Cornerstone HealthCare in High Point, NC.