Dyke CM.  Safety of glycoprotein IIb-IIIa inhibitors: A heart surgeon's perspective.  American Heart Journal.  138(4 Pt 2):307-16, 1999.


    Platelet-mediated coronary thrombosis is the primary pathophysiologic mechanism of acute coronary syndromes (ACS) and acute ischemic complications of percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). The final common pathway of platelet aggregation that leads to thrombotic occlusion of coronary arteries involves cross-linking of receptor glycoprotein (GP) IIb-IIIa on adjacent platelets by adhesive plasma proteins, primarily fibrinogen.  Clinical trials of several GP IIb-IIIa inhibitors have demonstrated an unequivocal clinical benefit of this potent antithrombotic therapy in patients with ACS as well as in those undergoing PCI.  Nevertheless, a significant number of patients with ischemic heart disease may still be expected to require elective or emergency coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) after treatment with GP IIb-IIIa inhibitors.  In the emergency CABG setting, complications and platelet blockade with GP IIb-IIIa inhibitors may further enhance the already heightened risk of bleeding as compared with elective procedures. This issue became apparent in the first large clinical trial of the GP IIb-IIIa inhibitor abciximab (c7E3 Fab, ReoPro((R)); Centocor, Malvern, Pa, and Eli Lilly and Co, Indianapolis, Ind) in patients undergoing high-risk PCI. In this study, mortality rates and bleeding complications were increased among patients undergoing emergency CABG after treatment with a bolus plus infusion of abciximab. Subsequent clinical experience also suggests that the potential for bleeding complications related to emergency CABG may be increased in patients treated with abciximab, particularly if the drug is discontinued within 6 hours of the operation. Higher bleeding risk with abciximab is a result of its prolonged antiplatelet effect, which is in contrast to the readily reversible platelet blockade provided by more recently developed small-molecule GP IIb-IIIa inhibitors such as the peptide eptifibatide (Integrilin((R)); COR Therapeutics, South San Francisco, Calif, and Key Pharmaceuticals, Kenilworth, NJ) and the nonpeptide tirofiban HCl (MK-383, Aggrastat((R)); Merck & Co, Whitehouse Station, NJ). Therefore, among patients requiring CABG after treatment with GP IIb-IIIa inhibitors, eptifibatide and tirofiban may be associated with fewer bleeding episodes than is abciximab. With recent approval of eptifibatide for patients with ACS and those scheduled for PCI and of tirofiban for patients with ACS, the number of patients receiving GP IIb-IIIa inhibitor therapy who subsequently undergo CABG is expected to increase significantly. Strategies for improved management of bleeding complications in these patients, including the choice of a GP IIb-IIIa inhibitor, are clearly needed and are discussed in detail.