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July 27, 2020

New Horizons in Pharmacologic Therapy for Secondary Stroke Prevention

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Neurology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • 2Population Health Research Institute, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • 3Hamilton Health Sciences, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
JAMA Neurol. 2020;77(10):1308-1317. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2020.2494

Importance  Even with currently available therapies and lifestyle modifications following an ischemic stroke, there remains a substantial residual lifetime risk of stroke recurrence and cardiovascular morbidity. This review summarizes emerging novel therapeutic approaches that have demonstrated signals of efficacy for prevention of noncardioembolic stroke from phase II and phase III randomized clinical trials (RCTs) and provides an overview of drug regimens that have had promising results in primary stroke prevention and could be considered for further evaluation.

Observations  After a minor acute ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack, patients bear a high cardiovascular risk that is insufficiently addressed by long-term antiplatelet treatment. The potent combination of low-dose rivaroxaban with aspirin as an antithrombotic option for the secondary prevention in patients with clinical atherosclerosis and a history of previous stroke warrants further study. Two international RCTs are currently evaluating the utility of oral factor XI inhibitors combined with antiplatelets for secondary, noncardioembolic ischemic stroke prevention. Aggressive lipid management with statins has been shown to ameliorate ischemic stroke recurrence and total cardiovascular risk. Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 inhibitors are drug regimens that researchers have suggested confer additional protection against stroke recurrence, while antisense oligonucleotide therapies targeting lipoprotein(a) have been reported to hold great promise as a future therapeutic strategy to decrease the residual cardiovascular risk mediated through lipoprotein(a). Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists are newer antidiabetic medications, recently highlighted because of their consistently greater benefit on stroke reduction compared with other cardiovascular outcomes.

Conclusions and Relevance  There are currently several exciting emerging opportunities in secondary stroke prevention, with RCTs investigating novel antithrombotic, hypolipidemic, anti-inflammatory, and antidiabetic agents with novel mechanisms that are likely to reduce the future burden of recurrent stroke.

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