Thrombus formation and coronary artery occlusion, in acute coronary syndromes, occur as a result of an atherosclerotic plaque rupture/erosion and the subsequent activation of platelets and coagulation factors. Also, cardioembolic events, in atrial fibrillation, are related to the thrombus formation and the systemic arterial embolization secondary to the blood stasis in left atrium.
Antiplatelet treatments in acute coronary syndromes and long-term oral anticoagulation in atrial fibrillation have improved prognosis by reducing ischemic events but both treatments are associated with an increase in the risk of bleeding. Furthermore, thrombin and activated factor X are the key elements in the coagulation cascade and novel oral anticoagulants act by inhibiting these coagulation factors, generating a double effect: the reduction of ischemic events and the increment in hemorrhagic events.
To date, the clinical benefit of novel oral anticoagulants, in patients presenting acute coronary syndromes and atrial fibrillation, has not well studied. For that reason, the objective of this manuscript is to explain basic clinical trials testing novel oral anticoagulants in patients with acute coronary syndromes and ongoing trials evaluating the use of new oral anticoagulants in population with acute coronary syndromes and atrial fibrillation: the PIONEER AF-PCI (Rivaroxaban), the RT-AF (Rivaroxaban) and the REDUAL-PCI (Dabigatran) trials.