Antiplatelet agents in uncertain clinical scenarios—a bleeding nightmare
Despite over 40 years since the first percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) was performed, the optimal dual antiplatelet therapy (DAPT) regime poses a significant challenge for clinicians, especially in certain scenarios. DAPT is the standard of care in PCI following an acute coronary syndrome (ACS) or for elective patients with obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD). There remains significant uncertainty regarding DAPT in patients at high risk of bleeding, such as the elderly and patients requiring anticoagulation. More and more clinicians are faced with a dilemma of weighing risks and benefits from the increasing list of potent, new antiplatelet agents and direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) in a growing, aging population. Historically, most studies failed to recognize bleeding risk, instead focusing on ischemic risk. In recent years however, bleeding has been recognized as a very significant driver of morbidity and mortality in patients undergoing PCI. There is a paucity of data in this cohort leading to divergent and sometimes conflicting recommendations, largely based on expert consensus of opinion. In the current review, we critically evaluate the available evidence in these uncertain scenarios.