Acute Stroke or Transient Ischaemic Attack Treated With Aspirin or Ticagrelor and Patient Outcomes - SOCRATES


The goal of the trial was to compare the safety and efficacy of ticagrelor compared with aspirin in patients with an acute ischemic stroke.

Contribution to the Literature: Ticagrelor monotherapy with 90 mg BID was not superior to aspirin 100 mg daily in reducing major cardiovascular events in patients presenting with low-acuity ischemic stroke or high-risk transient ischemic attack (TIA).

Study Design

Patients with acute ischemic stroke were randomized in a 1:1 fashion to receive either aspirin 300 mg load + 100 mg/day (n = 6,610) or ticagrelor 180 mg load + 90 mg BID (n = 6,589) within 24 hours of presentation.

  • Total number of enrollees: 13,307
  • Total number randomized: 13,199
  • Duration of follow-up: 90 days
  • Mean patient age: 65.9 years
  • Percentage female: 41.5%

Inclusion criteria:

  • Acute ischemic stroke
  • National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score ≤5
  • High-risk TIA
  • Randomization within 24 hours of symptom onset
  • Age ≥40 years
  • No evidence of intracranial bleeding

Exclusion criteria:

  • Planned use of other antiplatelet agents or anticoagulation
  • Plan for carotid, cerebrovascular, or coronary revascularization within 7 days of randomization
  • Hypersensitivity to aspirin or ticagrelor
  • History of atrial fibrillation, ventricular aneurysm, or suspicion for cardioembolic cause of stroke
  • Intravenous or intra-arterial thrombolysis or mechanical thrombectomy within 24 hours
  • Known bleeding diathesis or coagulation disorder
  • History of symptomatic nontraumatic intracranial hemorrhage at any time
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding within 6 months or major surgery within 1 month

Other salient features/characteristics:

  • White race: 66.5%
  • Qualifying event as stroke: 73%
  • NIHSS score ≤3: 67.4%
  • Prior stroke or TIA: 18%

Principal Findings:

The primary outcome, death, myocardial infarction, or stroke, for ticagrelor vs. aspirin: 6.7% vs. 7.5%, hazard ratio 0.89, 95% confidence interval 0.78-1.01, p = 0.07

  • Death: 1.0% vs. 0.9%, p = 0.36, for ticagrelor vs. aspirin, respectively
  • All strokes: 5.9% vs. 6.8%, p = 0.03, for ticagrelor vs. aspirin, respectively
  • Myocardial infarction: 0.4% vs. 0.3%, p = 0.55, for ticagrelor vs. aspirin, respectively

Secondary outcomes  (for ticagrelor vs. aspirin, respectively):

  • Ischemic stroke: 5.8% vs. 6.7%, p = 0.046
  • Cardiovascular death: 0.6% vs. 0.5%, p = 0.48
  • Major bleeding: 0.5% vs. 0.6%, p = 0.45
  • Intracranial hemorrhage: 0.2% vs. 0.3%, p = 0.3
  • Major or minor bleeding: 1.6% vs. 1.2%, p = 0.06


The results of this trial indicate that ticagrelor monotherapy with 90 mg BID is not superior to aspirin 100 mg daily in reducing major cardiovascular events in patients presenting with low acuity ischemic stroke (NIHSS ≤5; not receiving thrombolysis or mechanical thrombectomy) or high-risk TIA. The trial was powered for hierarchical testing. Thus, although all strokes and ischemic strokes were lower in the ticagrelor arm, the finding is considered hypothesis generating. Major bleeding was similar between the two arms. It is unknown if a benefit may be observed on longer duration of follow-up, or perhaps in patients with proven ischemic stroke only (since some patients with TIA may not have disease modifiable by antiplatelet agents).


Johnston SC, Amarenco P, Albers GW, et al., on behalf of the SOCRATES Steering Committee and Investigators. Ticagrelor Versus Aspirin in Acute Stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack. N Engl J Med 2016;May 10:[Epub ahead of print].

Clinical Topics: Cardiac Surgery, Invasive Cardiovascular Angiography and Intervention, Prevention, Cardiac Surgery and Arrhythmias

Keywords: Adenosine, Aspirin, Intracranial Hemorrhages, Ischemic Attack, Transient, Myocardial Infarction, Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors, Purinergic P2Y Receptor Antagonists, Secondary Prevention, Stroke, Thrombectomy, Vascular Diseases

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