Clopidogrel added to aspirin improved outcomes after hospitalization in patients with non–ST-segment elevation acute coronary syndromes (NSTE ACS) in the Clopidogrel in Unstable angina to prevent Recurrent Events (CURE) trial, regardless of in-hospital treatment approach. The American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) Guidelines for treating NSTE ACS thus recommend prescribing clopidogrel plus aspirin at discharge for all patients, not just for those undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI).
We studied 61 052 patients with high-risk NSTE ACS (defined as the presence of positive cardiac markers and/or ischemic ST-segment changes) from January 2002 through December 2003 at 461 US hospitals participating in the CRUSADE (Can Rapid Risk Stratification of Unstable Angina Patients Suppress Adverse Outcomes With Early Implementation of the ACC/AHA Guidelines) Quality Improvement Initiative. We evaluated temporal trends of clopidogrel use at discharge since the ACC/AHA 2002 Guidelines update and examined variables associated with clopidogrel use in patients who did not undergo PCI.
A total of 34 319 patients (56.2%) received clopidogrel when they were discharged from the hospital. Among patients who did not undergo PCI, variables associated with receiving clopidogrel at discharge included prior PCI, coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), stroke, or myocardial infarction; hypercholesterolemia; elevated cardiac markers; and cardiology inpatient care. By late 2003, 96.3% of patients who underwent PCI received clopidogrel at discharge, compared with 42.8% of patients who did not undergo cardiac catheterization and 23.5% of the patients who underwent CABG, although clopidogrel prescription at discharge increased in each of these treatment groups from 2002 to 2003.
Since release of the ACC/AHA Guidelines recommendations for treatment of NSTE ACS, prescription of clopidogrel at hospital discharge in patients with NSTE ACS who are treated with medical therapy alone and in those who undergo CABG has increased, but most of these patients still do not receive clopidogrel at discharge.