Research we're watching
Ticagrelor (Brilinta), a drug that helps prevent blood clots, was approved in 2011 for treating people who had experienced a heart attack or acute coronary syndrome (a sudden loss of blood flow to the heart). Now, the drug can be prescribed to a broader group of people. In June 2020, the FDA expanded ticagrelor's approval to reduce the likelihood of first heart attack or stroke among high-risk people with coronary artery disease.
The expansion is based on results from a multiyear study of more than 19,000 people with coronary artery disease and diabetes at high risk for a heart attack. Participants who took aspirin plus ticagrelor were less likely to experience a heart attack, stroke, or death from heart disease compared with those who took aspirin alone.
Ticagrelor prevents tiny particles in the blood called platelets from clumping together to form blood clots. Like similar drugs, it can increase the risk of serious bleeding, including in the gastrointestinal tract and brain. But for many people with severe coronary artery disease but no risk factors for bleeding complications, the benefits may outweigh the risks.
Image: iLexx/Getty Images
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.