Percutaneous coronary intervention with bivalirudin plus bail-out glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors has been shown to be as effective as unfractionated heparin plus routine glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors in preventing cardiac ischemic events, but with a lower bleeding risk. It is unknown whether bivalirudin would have the same beneficial effects if compared with heparin when the use of glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors was similar between treatment arms. We searched the MEDLINE, Web of Science, and Cochrane databases from inception until March 2015 for randomized trials that compared bivalirudin to heparin in patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention. We required that the intended use of glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors was similar between the study groups. Summary estimates were principally constructed by the Peto method. Fifteen trials met our inclusion criteria, which yielded 25,824 patients. Bivalirudin versus heparin was associated with an increased hazard of stent thrombosis (odds ratio [OR] 1.49, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.15-1.92, P = .002, I2 = 16.9%), with a similar hazard of myocardial infarction (OR 1.09, 95% CI 0.98-1.22, P = .11, I2 = 35.8%), all-cause mortality (OR 0.88, 95% CI 0.72-1.08, P = .21, I2 = 31.5%) and major adverse cardiac events (OR 1.04, 95% CI 0.94-1.14, P = .46, I2 = 53.9%). Bivalirudin was associated with a reduced hazard of major bleeding (OR 0.80, 95% CI 0.70-0.92, P = .001, I2 = 63.5%). The dose of heparin in the control arm modified this association; when the dose of unfractionated heparin in the control arm was ≥ 100 units/kg, bivalirudin was associated with a reduction in major bleeding (OR 0.55, 95% CI 0.45-0.68, P < .0001), but when the dose of unfractionated heparin was ≤ 75 units/kg, bivalirudin was not associated with reduction in bleeding (OR 1.09, 95% CI 0.91-1.31, P = .36). Among patients undergoing PCI, bivalirudin was associated with an increased hazard of stent thrombosis. Bivalirudin may be associated with a reduced hazard of major bleeding; however, this benefit was no longer apparent when compared with a dose of unfractionated heparin ≤ 75 units/kg.
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