Study: Stopping Plavix May Be Risky
Risk of Death or Heart Attack May Be Higher in 3 Months After Stopping Plavix
WebMD News Archive
Feb. 5, 2008 -- Heart
attack survivors and other heart patients may be more likely to die or
suffer a heart attack in the first three months after stopping the drug Plavix, new research shows.
Plavix is an antiplatelet drug. It discourages the formation of blood clots,
which helps prevent heart attacks and strokes caused by clots.
If confirmed, the findings from the new Plavix study may mean that
researchers need to revisit the length of Plavix treatment and ways to
transition off of Plavix.
The study appears in the Feb. 6 edition of The Journal of the American
The new study on stopping Plavix included 3,137 U.S. veterans with acute
coronary syndrome, meaning they had had a heart attack or had been hospitalized
due to serious heart-related chest
pain (unstable angina).
Almost all of the patients -- 98% -- were men. They were in their 60s on
average. Many had a history of heart problems and other medical conditions.
Half of the patients only got drug treatments. The other half got stents
inserted to hold open narrowed coronary arteries.
All of the patients got Plavix prescriptions when they left
the hospital. They took Plavix for various lengths of time -- a little more
than nine months on average.
It's not clear if the patients stopped taking Plavix because their
prescriptions ran out or if their doctors were concerned about bleeding risk or
The patients were followed for nearly seven months, on average, after
During that time, 17% of patients who had only gotten drug treatment and 8%
of those who had gotten stents died or had a heart attack. Most of those cases
happened in the first 90 days after stopping Plavix.
While rare overall, those deaths and heart attacks were nearly twice as
common soon after stopping Plavix than they were later on.
If the results are confirmed, further studies may be needed to see if
patients should take Plavix longer, taper off Plavix, or use other drugs to lower death and heart
attack risk, note the researchers.
They included P. Michael Ho, MD, PhD, of the Denver VA Medical Center and
the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.