Literature Review

Ticagrelor/aspirin combo: Fewer repeat strokes and deaths, but more bleeds


From New England Journal of Medicine

Risks versus benefits

Commenting on the study, Konark Malhotra, MD, a vascular neurologist at Allegheny Health Network, Pittsburgh, noted that ticagrelor is an antiplatelet medication “that adds to the armamentarium of stroke neurologists for the treatment of mild acute ischemic or high-risk TIA patients.” Dr. Malhotra, who was not involved with the study, added that the “combined use of ticagrelor and aspirin is effective in the reduction of ischemic events, however, at the expense of increased risk of bleeding events.”

In an accompanying editorial, Peter Rothwell, MD, PhD, of the Wolfson Center for Prevention of Stroke and Dementia, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Oxford (England) who was not involved with the study, suggested that the “bleeding risk associated with ticagrelor and aspirin might exceed the benefit among lower-risk patients who make up the majority in practice, and so the results should not be overgeneralized.” Moreover, “regardless of which combination of antiplatelet therapy is favored for the high-risk minority, all patients should receive aspirin immediately after TIA, unless aspirin is contraindicated.”

He noted that “too many patients are sent home from emergency departments without this simple treatment that substantially reduces the risk and severity of early recurrent stroke.”

The study was supported by AstraZeneca. Dr. Johnston has received a grant from AstraZeneca and nonfinancial support from SANOFI. Dr. Rothwell has received personal fees from Bayer and BMS. Dr. Malhotra has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

A version of this article originally appeared on


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