In Summary, for those who took the glycoprotein inhibitors:

Benefits in NNT

  • 100% saw no benefit
  • None were helped (life saved, preventing repeat heart attack in 6 months)

Harms in NNT

  • 0.8% were harmed by a major bleeding event*
  • 1 in 116 were harmed (major bleeding event*)

*Brain bleeding or bleeding requiring transfusion

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Source: Bosch X et al. Platelet glycoprotein IIb/IIIa blockers for percutaneous coronary revascularization, and unstable angina and non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001;(4):CD002130.

Efficacy Endpoints: Death at 6 months, heart attack at 6 months

Harm Endpoints: Major bleeding events (brain bleeding or bleeding requiring transfusion)

Narrative: There are four major trials that address this question, including just over 3000 subjects. Studies were of relatively high quality and the use of glycoprotein inhibitors in this situation represents a best-case-scenario: The subjects are low risk for bleeding, high risk for death or recurrent heart attack, and are undergoing invasive management. If the mechanism of action and conventional wisdom are to be believed glycoprotein inhibitors should be most helpful for high risk patients undergoing invasive procedures. The lack of benefit in this population, and an increase in harmful events, is remarkable.

Caveats: There are only four trials, all industry sponsored. While neither death nor MI was affected, some may note that 'revascularizations' (repeat angioplasties) were reduced. However, at TheNNT.com we see this as neither a patient-oriented nor a clinically important endpoint. In these studies 'revascularization' was separate from 'MI' and death, which were both unaffected. This means that the condition that led to the repeat angioplasty did not result in death was not an MI, suggesting that the ‘need’ for the procedure was highly questionable. This is particularly true when one considers that only STEMI patients have been shown to benefit from angioplasty (see COURAGE trial and related data).

Author: David Newman

Published/Updated: October 23, 2009

  1. The Title Bar

    The title bar is color-coded with our overall recommendation.

    • Green: Benefits outweigh risks.
    • Yellow: Unclear risk/benefit profile.
    • Red: Benefits do not outweigh risks.
    • Black: Obvious harms, no clear benefits.
  2. Tip content...