Assessment of Thrombotic and Thrombolytic Status in Patients with Coronary Artery Disease and its Relation to Clinical Outcomes
Background: Platelets provide the initial haemostatic plug at sites of vascular injury. They also participate in pathological thrombosis that leads to myocardial infarction, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. The outcome of an acute myocardial infarction depends not only on the formation and stability of an occlusive thrombus, but also on the efficacy of the endogenous thrombolytic process, which allows reperfusion of the infarct related artery and prevents recurrent ischaemic episodes. Various platelet function tests are available to measure the thrombogenic potential of an individual, but the sensitivity of these tests remain questionable as most of these tests use citrated blood and measure response to a particular agonist. Endogenous thrombolysis has been a neglected entity, and its beneficial effects on cardiovascular outcomes has not been studied in depth in the past, possibly as until recently there has been no available technique to measure spontaneous thrombolytic activity in native blood. The Global Thrombosis Test (GTT) is a new point of care tests that allows us to measure time to thrombus formation (Occlusion time: OT) using native blood, avoiding the use of agonists and making the test results more physiological. The GTT also measures the time to lyse this formed thrombi without use of any lytic agents (Lysis time: LT), allowing us to measure the patient’s endogenous thrombolytic potential. Aim: Our aim in this study was to detect patients who are at risk of future thrombotic events despite dual antiplatelet therapy, either due to prothrombotic tendency or due to impaired endogenous thrombolysis, and to determine if these two parameters were correlated. Methods: GTT was used to assess the thrombotic and thrombolytic activity in healthy volunteers, and in different patient populations. 100 healthy volunteers were tested using the GTT, and a normal range was established. 300 patients admitted to hospital with a diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) were included in the study, and tested using the GTT after they had been stabilized on dual antiplatelet therapy (Aspirin and Clopidogrel). All these patients were followed up for a year, to determine if their baseline GTT results were a predictor of recurrent cardiac events. The primary endpoint of the study was major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE), which was a composite of cardiovascular death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, or stroke at 12 months. Results: All results were analysed using statistical package SPSS version 16.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, Illinois). The 100 healthy volunteers were all non-smokers, and were not taking any medications. There were 55 males and 45 females, and mean age was 38±11 years (range 22-76, IQR 11). OT was normally distributed with mean OT 377.80s, and using mean ± 2SD, we derived a normal range of 185-569s (200-550s). LT demonstrated a skewed distribution with values ranging between 457 – 2934s. Using log transformation, a normal range of 592 – 1923 (600- 2000s) was established for LT. OT and LT were both prolonged in ACS patients compared to normal volunteers (p< 0.001). No association was observed between OT and risk of major adverse cardiovascular events. LT was noted to be a significant and independent predictor of MACE in a multivariate model adjusted for cardiovascular risk factors. LT ≥ 3000 s was the optimal cutoff value for predicting 6 month MACE [hazard ratio (HR): 2.48, 95% CI: 1.2-4.8, P= 0.008] and cardiovascular death [HR: 4.04, 95% CI : 1.3-12.0, P= 0.012 ] and 12 month MACE [HR:1.9, 95% CI: 1.04- 3.5,P= 0.03] and cardiovascular death [HR: 3.9,95% CI: 1.34-11.9, P= 0.013 ]. LT ≥ 3000 s was observed in 23% of ACS patients. Conclusions: Our study suggests that endogenous thrombolytic activity based on lysis of platelet rich thrombi can be assessed by the point of care GTT assay, which can help in identification of ACS patients at high risk of future cardiac events. Prolongation of OT may be explained by the antiplatelet effects of Aspirin and Clopidogrel, as both these drugs prolong time to thrombus formation and hence increase OT. Further large studies are required to study factors which can reduce thrombogenic potential, and improve endogenous thrombolytic activity, which can be monitored using the GTT to improve cardiovascular outcomes.