Glycoprotein IIb/IIIa receptor antagonists are potent antiplatelet agents by inhibiting the final common pathway of platelet aggregation. Tirofiban binds specifically to the glycoprotein IIb/IIIa receptor resulting in immediate and extensive inhibition of platelets. Studies have shown that intravenous administration of tirofiban in combination with aspirin and heparin reduces major adverse cardiac events in patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention and in those patients with acute coronary syndromes. Large randomised trials using tirofiban demonstrate early clinical and long-term survival benefit in all patient subgroups including high-risk patients undergoing urgent percutaneous coronary intervention, patients undergoing elective intracoronary stent placement and in the medical management of acute coronary syndromes. The use of high-dose bolus tirofiban may provide additional protection in patients at highest risk, whereas the role of tirofiban in the facilitation of primary angioplasty is less well defined. Similar to the other glycoprotein IIb/IIIa receptor antagonists, tirofiban increases the risk of haemorrhagic complications. However, the risk of serious bleeding, including intracranial haemorrhage, remains low and tirofiban does not appear to increase the risk of thrombocytopenia. Overall, the use of tirofiban in coronary artery disease has been shown to be effective, has an acceptable safety profile and is potentially cost-effective.
Keywords: Tirofiban, glycoprotein IIb/IIIa antagonists, percutaneous coronary intervention, acute coronary syndromes, platelets
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