Purpose of review
Atrial fibrillation in patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is associated with a high thromboembolic event rate. Combined oral anticoagulant (OAC) and antiplatelet therapy (APT) are often used to reduce thromboembolic risk, recurrent coronary ischemic events, and stent thrombosis, despite the high bleeding risk. This review is timely with the recent introduction of novel OACs (NOACs), more potent antiplatelet agents, and second-generation coronary stents with a lower risk of late stent thrombosis, and considers strategies and new opportunities to reduce both thrombotic events and bleeding.
The benefits of NOACs in patients with atrial fibrillation have been shown in recent studies. New evidence indicates that single rather than dual APT may be adequate when an OAC is used in a patient with a recent coronary stent. Limited evidence suggests a NOAC is preferable to warfarin when additional APT is also required.
The implications of the new findings are to indicate strategies for more effective antithrombotic therapy, while minimizing the risk of major bleeding in patients with ACS and atrial fibrillation. However, additional research studies are required to further optimize treatment strategies in this high-risk population.