Total burden of intraplaque hemorrhage in coronary arteries relates to the use of coumarin-type anticoagulants but not platelet aggregation inhibitors

X. Li, A. Vink, H.W.M. Niessen, J. Kers, O.J. de Boer, H.J.P. Ploegmakers, J.G.P. Tijssen, R.J. de Winter, A.C. van der Wal

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Intraplaque hemorrhage (IPH) is a crucial factor in progression and destabilization of an atherosclerotic plaque. Anti-thromboembolic drugs are widely used as prophylactic treatment against arterial and venous thrombotic diseases, but a major complication is bleeding. We investigated the association between exposure to anti-thromboembolic therapy and IPH in postmortem coronary arteries. Coronary arteries with postmortem angiographically confirmed extensive atherosclerosis were obtained at autopsy from patients who had received oral anticoagulants (n = 10), platelet aggregation inhibitors (n = 10), or no anti-thrombotic drugs (n = 10) before death. Coronary arteries were cut at 3-mm interval, and all plaque-containing segments were immunohistochemically screened for IPH and microvessels. These data were related to overall plaque composition and the use of anti-thromboembolic therapies. IPH was found in 483 out of 904 (53 %) coronary segments with advanced atherosclerotic plaques and more frequently in patients on oral anticoagulants (174/284, 61 %) than in patients on anti-platelets (198/376, 53 %) or without therapy (111/244, 46 %) (P = 0.02 and P = 0.001, respectively). Also, intraplaque microvascular leakage was more frequently observed in patients on anticoagulants than in non-treated patients (P = 0.03). Finally, the IPH appeared to be larger in plaques of patients on anticoagulant treatment (P < 0.001). Density of intraplaque microvessels was highest in plaques of patients on platelet inhibitors (P < 0.05), but this was not associated with increased hemorrhagic burden. Prophylactic therapy with oral coumarin-type anticoagulants appears to be associated with a higher hemorrhagic burden in atherosclerotic coronary arteries, which may lead to increase in plaque volume over time, in this selected subgroup of patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-729
Number of pages7
JournalVirchows Archiv
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014

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