Antithrombotic drugs: III

A. S. Gallus, J. Hirsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many compounds have been shown to inhibit platelet function in vitro, but only 5 of these drugs have been extensively evaluated as prophylactic or therapeutic antithrombotic agents in man. These are aspirin, sulphinpyrazone, dipyridamole, hydroxychloroquine and clofibrate. They have been evaluated mainly in patients with cerebral vascular disorders, coronary artery disease, peripheral artery ischemia, venous thromboembolism, prosthetic heart valves, and in patients with arteriovenous shunts. The evaluation of the clinical effect of the platelet function suppressing drugs is in its early stages, but they appear to differ from each other in the spectrum of their clinical effectiveness, and they may be more effective in arterial than in venous thromboembolic disorders. Their role in the management of cerebral vascular disease and coronary artery disease is still uncertain, and should be clarified by the results of a number of multi centre, prospective, randomised studies which are currently in progress. Three types of thrombolytic drugs have been evaluated clinically; the plasminogen activators streptokinase and urokinase, proteolytic enzymes such as plasmin, and agents which increase the level of endogenous plasminogen activator (e.g. anabolic steroids). Of these, the plasminogen activators now have a definite place in clinical practice. The plasminogen activators accelerate the lysis of recent venous thrombi and pulmonary emboli, and of arterial thrombi or emboli. Thrombolytic therapy with these agents should be considered particularly in patients with recent major pulmonary embolism, as lysis of recent emboli is rapid and substantial. It should also be considered in patients with recent extensive venous thrombosis, because total lysis of venous thrombi has been reported to result in long term preservation of valve function, and is likely to prevent postphlebitic syndrome, though this has not been proven. However, plasminogen activator therapy carries a higher risk of bleeding than heparin treatment. In patients with peripheral artery thromboembolism, the use of plasminogen activators is limited to those patients in whom surgery is contraindicated. Benefit from thrombolytic therapy has not been demonstrated in myocardial infarction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-106
Number of pages20
JournalCurrent Therapeutics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1976
Externally publishedYes


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