It is well known that critically ill patients require special attention and additional consideration during their treatment and management. The multiple systems and organ dysfunctions, typical of the critical patient, often results in different patterns of enteral absorption in these patients. Anti-platelet drugs are the cornerstone in treating patients with coronary and cerebrovascular disease. Dual anti-platelet therapy with aspirin and clopidogrel is the treatment of choice in patients undergoing elective percutaneous coronary interventions and is still widely used in patients with acute coronary syndromes. However, despite the use of dual anti-platelet therapy, some patients continue to experience cardiovascular ischemic events. Recurrence of ischemic events is partly attributed to the fact that some patients have poor inhibition of platelet reactivity despite treatment. These patients are considered low- or non-responders to therapy. The underlying mechanisms leading to resistance are not yet fully elucidated and are probably multifactorial, cellular, genetic and clinical factors being implicated. Several methods have been developed to asses platelet function and can be used to identify patients with persistent platelet reactivity, which have an increased risk of thrombosis. In this paper, the concept of anti-platelet therapy resistance, the underlying mechanisms and the methods used to identify patients with low responsiveness to anti-platelet therapy will be highlighted with a focus on aspirin and clopidogrel therapy and addressing especially critically ill patients.
Keywords: aspirin, blood platelets, clopidogrel, cytochrome P-450 enzyme system, platelet aggregation inhibitors, platelet function tests
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