The optimal duration of dual antiplatelet therapy after coronary stent implantation: to go too far is as bad as to fall short
Dual antiplatelet therapy (DAPT) with aspirin and a P2Y12 inhibitor is key for secondary prevention of recurrent coronary ischemic events and stent thrombosis. For this purpose, DAPT showed superior efficacy compared to aspirin alone, but it is also associated with an increased risk of major, and potentially fatal, bleeding. Hence, while secondary prevention with aspirin monotherapy is generally maintained for an indefinite period, the duration of DAPT after the index event is still debated. Multiple trials have challenged the guideline recommended standard of care of 12 months of DAPT duration. These studies tested on one side a treatment reduction to 6 or 3 months, and on the other side an extension of treatment beyond 12 months in order to define the optimal DAPT duration maximizing the anti-ischemic protection and minimizing bleeding. In this document we sought to summarize the existing evidence from more than 18 randomized controlled trials in the field, and discuss the benefit and risks of prolonging/shortening DAPT duration. In addition, a specific focus on treatment individualization will outline the current, evidence-based, decision-making process for optimal DAPT duration selection after coronary stenting.