Antiplatelet Therapy in Patients With Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Without Symptomatic Atherosclerotic Disease

Chalotte W. Nicolajsen*, Mette Søgaard, Martin Jensen, Nikolaj Eldrup, Torben B. Larsen, Samuel Z. Goldhaber, Christian-Alexander Behrendt, Peter B. Nielsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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IMPORTANCE: Patients with abdominal aortic aneurysm have a high risk of ischemic events associated with concomitant atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, and current clinical practice guidelines recommend antiplatelet therapy to mitigate this risk. However, in patients with aneurysms without symptomatic atherosclerosis, the benefit of antiplatelet therapy has been sparsely investigated.

OBJECTIVE: To estimate the effect of antiplatelets on the risk of ischemic events and bleeding in individuals with abdominal aneurysms with no symptomatic atherosclerotic vascular disease.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: A comparative effectiveness research study using a target trial emulation framework was performed. Population-based, cross-linked observational data from Danish national health registries containing comprehensive, individual-level information on all Danish citizens were used to evaluate patients who were antiplatelet-naive and diagnosed with abdominal aortic aneurysms, with no record of symptomatic atherosclerotic vascular disease, from January 1, 2010, through August 21, 2021.

EXPOSURE: Prescription filled for aspirin or clopidogrel.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Risk of ischemic events (myocardial infarction and/or ischemic stroke) and risk of major bleeding. For target trial emulation, trials were emulated as sequential, contingent on patient eligibility at the time of inclusion, and were evaluated by means of pooled logistic regression models to estimate the intention-to-treat and as-treated effects, expressed as hazard ratio (HR) and event-free survival.

RESULTS: A total of 6344 patients (65.2% men; age, 72 [IQR, 64-78] years) provided 131 047 trial cases; 3363 of these cases involved initiation of antiplatelet therapy and 127 684 did not. A total of 182 ischemic events occurred among initiators and 5602 ischemic events occurred among noninitiators, corresponding to an intention-to-treat HR of 0.91 (95% CI, 0.73-1.17) and an estimated absolute event-free survival difference of -0.6% (95% CI, -1.7% to 0.5%). After censoring nonadherent person-time, the treatment HR was 0.90 (95% CI, 0.68-1.20), with similar risk difference. For bleeding, the intention-to-treat HR was 1.26 (95% CI, 0.97-1.58) and the event-free survival difference was 1.0%. The treatment HR was 1.21 (95% CI, 0.82-1.72); the risk difference was similar.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In this study, no evidence of effectiveness of antiplatelet therapy to lower the risk of ischemic events and a trend toward higher bleeding risk was noted. The observed differences between the treatment groups were minimal, suggesting limited clinical relevance of antiplatelet treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2339715
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)e2339715
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2023


  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal/complications
  • Atherosclerosis/complications
  • Ischemic Stroke
  • Myocardial Infarction
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors/therapeutic use
  • Comparative Effectiveness Research


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