Clinical question: Does the addition of clopidogrel to aspirin reduce the risk of any type of recurrent stroke, or affect the risk of bleeding or death, in patients who recently suffered a lacunar stroke?
Background: There are no prior randomized, multicenter trials on secondary prevention of lacunar stroke; aspirin is the standard antiplatelet therapy in this setting.
Study design: Double-blind, randomized, multicenter trial.
Setting: Eighty-two clinical centers in North America, Latin America, and Spain.
Synopsis: Researchers enrolled 3,020 patients from 2003 to 2011; criteria included age >30 years old and symptomatic lacunar stroke (proven by MRI) in the preceding 180 days.
Results showed no significant difference between recurrent strokes (any type) in the aspirin-only group (2.7% per year) versus the aspirin-plus-clopidogrel group (2.5% per year). Major hemorrhage risk was much higher in the aspirin-plus-clopidogrel group (2.1% per year) versus aspirin-only group (1.1% per year). All-cause mortality also was much higher in the aspirin-plus-clopidogrel group (N=113) versus the aspirin-only group (N=77).
Bottom line: The addition of clopidogrel to aspirin for secondary prevention does not significantly reduce the risk of recurrent stroke, but it does significantly increase the risk of bleeding and death.
Citation: Benavente OR, Hart RG, McClure LA, et al. Effects of clopidogrel added to aspirin in patients with recent lacunar stroke. N Engl J Med. 2012;367:817-825.