'Aspirin resistance' or treatment non-compliance: which is to blame for cardiovascular complications?

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Aspirin is one of the 'cornerstone' drugs in our current management of cardiovascular disorders. However, despite the prescription of aspirin recurrent vascular events still occur in 10-20% of patients. These, data together with the observations of diminished antiaggregatory response to aspirin in some subjects have provided the basis of the current debate on the existence of so-called "aspirin resistance". Unfortunately, many of the tests employed to define 'aspirin resistance' lack sufficient sensitivity, specificity, and reproducibility. The prevalence of 'aspirin resistance' as defined by each test varies widely, and furthermore, the value of a single point estimate measure of aspirin resistance is questionable. The rate of 'aspirin resistance' is law if patients observed to ingest aspirin, with large proportion of patients to be pseudo-'aspirin resistant', due to non-compliance. What are the implications for clinical practice? Possible non-adherence to aspirin prescription should also be carefully considered before changing to higher aspirin doses, other antiplatelet drugs (e.g. clopidogrel) or even combination antiplatelet drug therapy. Given the multifactorial nature of atherothrombotic disease, it is not surprising that only about 25% of all cardiovascular complications can usually be prevented by any single medication. We would advocate against routine testing of platelet sensitivity to aspirin (as an attempt to look for 'aspirin resistance') but rather, to highlight the importance of clinicians and public attention to the problem of treatment non-compliance.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of translational medicine
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008