This Drug Has Significant Implications for Heart Disease

August 31, 2017  Source: newsjs 152

An anti-inflammatory drug has significantly lowered the risk of recurrent heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular death, all without reducing cholesterol, according to research recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine and shared at a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology.

Taking a 150- or 300-mg dose of the drug – canakinumab – resulted in patients having a 15 percent reduced risk of having a cardiovascular event, such as a fatal or non-fatal heart attack or stroke. Novartis makes the drug and sponsored the study.

More than 10,000 people were enrolled in the study, all of whom had a heart attack before and had high levels of a certain marker for inflammation. They all had "aggressive standard care," some of which included receiving high doses of cholesterol-lowering statins. Statins are a typically prescribed class of drugs for heart disease patients.

Approximately 25 percent of those who survive heart attacks will experience a separate cardiovascular event over the next five years – even with medications. But just how much of an impact could the drug make?

An estimated 3 million Americans could benefit from the medication, David Goff, director of the division of cardiovascular sciences at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, told the Washington Post.

"For the first time, we’ve been able to definitively show that lowering inflammation independent of cholesterol reduces cardiovascular risk," study author Dr. Paul Ridker said in a statement touting the "far-reaching implications" of the findings. "It tells us that by leveraging an entirely new way to treat patients – targeting inflammation – we may be able to significantly improve outcomes for certain very high-risk populations," he added. Ridker is the director of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and designed the drug with his colleagues. The Washington Post notes he has been a paid consultant for Novartis.

Still, more research is necessary.

"Although this trial provides compelling evidence that targeting inflammation has efficacy in preventing recurrent cardiovascular events, we look forward to findings from additional trials … to further refine the best therapeutic strategies for preventing cardiovascular disease," Dr. Gary H. Gibbons, the director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, said in a news release.

Heart disease kills more than 600,000 Americans every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

By Ddu
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