Medium intensity oral anticoagulants versus aspirin after cerebral ischaemia of arterial origin (ESPRIT): a randomised controlled trial

P H A Halkes, J van Gijn, L J Kappelle, P J Koudstaal, A Algra, ESPRIT Study Group, Martin Dennis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: Oral anticoagulants are better than aspirin for secondary prevention after myocardial infarction and after cerebral ischaemia in combination with non-rheumatic atrial fibrillation. The European/Australasian Stroke Prevention in Reversible Ischaemia Trial (ESPRIT) aimed to determine whether oral anticoagulation with medium intensity is more effective than aspirin in preventing future vascular events in patients with transient ischaemic attack or minor stroke of presumed arterial origin.

METHODS: In this international, multicentre trial, patients were randomly assigned within 6 months after a transient ischaemic attack or minor stroke of presumed arterial origin either anticoagulants (target INR range 2.0-3.0; n=536) or aspirin (30-325 mg daily; n=532). The primary outcome was the composite of death from all vascular causes, non-fatal stroke, non-fatal myocardial infarction, or major bleeding complication, whichever occurred first. In a post hoc analysis anticoagulants were compared with the combination of aspirin and dipyridamole (200 mg twice daily). Treatment was open, but auditing of outcome events was blinded. Primary analysis was by intention to treat. This study is registered as an International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial (number ISRCTN73824458) and with ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT00161070).

FINDINGS: The anticoagulants versus aspirin comparison of ESPRIT was prematurely ended because ESPRIT reported previously that the combination of aspirin and dipyridamole was more effective than aspirin alone. Mean follow-up was 4.6 years (SD 2.2). The mean achieved INR was 2.57 (SD 0.86). A primary outcome event occurred in 99 (19%) patients on anticoagulants and in 98 (18%) patients on aspirin (hazard ratio [HR] 1.02, 95% CI 0.77-1.35). The HR for ischaemic events was 0.73 (0.52-1.01) and for major bleeding complications 2.56 (1.48-4.43). The HR for the primary outcome event comparing anticoagulants with the combination treatment of aspirin and dipyridamole was 1.31 (0.98-1.75).

INTERPRETATION: Oral anticoagulants (target INR range 2.0-3.0) are not more effective than aspirin for secondary prevention after transient ischaemic attack or minor stroke of arterial origin. A possible protective effect against ischaemic events is offset by increased bleeding complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-24
Number of pages10
JournalLancet Neurology
Volume6
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Aged
  • Anticoagulants
  • Aspirin
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stroke
  • Treatment Outcome

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