The prothrombotic state of patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) can be attributed partially to platelet activity. Management of such patients is hindered by a lack of techniques to assess hemostatic function. This study used a sensitive technique to monitor platelet function by measuring platelet force development during clot retraction. This technique allowed simultaneous measurement of clot elastic modulus on the same sample. Fibrin mass-length ratio (mu), fibrinopeptide A, D-Dimer, von Willebrand's factor, thromboxane A2, platelet aggregation studies, and bleeding times also were performed. Fourteen patients with CAD were compared with 10 healthy volunteers. Despite more than 95% suppression of thromboxane B2 and prolongation bleeding times in patients taking aspirin, force development remained significantly elevated over healthy control patients (8,279 +/- 476 dynes versus 4,857 +/- 380 dynes, p < 0.0006). Patients not taking aspirin had normal bleeding times and force development of 19,110 +/- 3,700 dynes. Clot elastic moduli were enhanced in patients with CAD whether taking or not taking aspirin. Adenosine diphosphate and ristocetin-induced platelet aggregation were insensitive to the effect of aspirin in patients with CAD. Fibrinopeptide A, von Willebrand's factor, and D-Dimer levels were significantly elevated, and fibrin mass-length ratios were significantly larger in patients with CAD. Therefore, despite aspirin therapy, patients with severe CAD have evidence of persistent platelet activation and rigid clot structure. Monitoring of platelet force development may prove useful in delineating enhanced platelet function.
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