Ischaemic stroke and other atherothrombotic events substantially increase the medico-economic burden because of their high treatment costs and long-lasting disabilities with need for chronic care. Studies have shown that the cost of stroke represents ∼ 3 - 5% of the annual health budget. Antiplatelet agents play a major role in secondary stroke prevention. Acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), ASA combined with extended-release dipyridamole (ER-Dip), and clopidogrel are all acceptable choices for first-line treatment in the secondary prevention of stroke. The newer antiplatelets, however, are more expensive than ASA, and their cost-effectiveness is not easily estimated. ASA has to be given to 33 stroke patients to prevent one future stroke, myocardial infarction (MI) or vascular death compared with placebo. Adding ER-Dip to ASA increases the benefit for the patients. A total of 33 stroke patients had to be treated with this combination, instead of ASA, to prevent one stroke. However, the combination of ASA plus ER-Dip does not prevent MI, vascular death or the combined end point of either stroke or death. Clopidogrel is more effective than ASA in preventing a combined end point of ischaemic stroke, MI, or vascular death, but it has not been shown to be superior to ASA in preventing recurrent stroke in transient ischaemic attack or stroke patients. Several subgroups, such as stroke patients with additional peripheral artery disease, patients with prior coronary artery bypass, patients with insulin-dependent diabetes, and patients with recurrent vascular events, were identified, in whom the benefit of clopidogrel is amplified. Taking economical aspects into account, the fixed combination of ASA and ER-Dip can be recommended for secondary stroke prevention as a first-line alternative to ASA in patients without major comorbidity. In patients with higher comorbidity, clopidogrel may be more effective for the individual patient compared with ASA, and might also be cost-effective. Furthermore, in patients with ASA intolerance clopidogrel is a useful, but expensive, alternative.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)