Big Breakthrough in Heart Treatment Research

Oct 11, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

In August, researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston announced a new study that showed that anti-inflammatory injections could lower the risk of heart attacks and slow the progression of cancer.

Researchers found that heart attack survivors who received injections of a targeted anti-inflammatory called canakinumab had fewer attacks in the future.  They also found a 50 percent decrease in cancer deaths in those treated with the drug.

To date, statins are the go-to drug of choice for heart attack prevention.  They work by lowering cholesterol levels.

The problem? Up to 25 percent of those who have one heart attack will have another within five years.

Researchers hope that the use of this new anti-inflammatory drug, combined with statins, will reduce recurring heart attacks in survivors and limit the number of first-time heart attacks for those most at risk.

Researchers tested over 10,000 patients who had had a heart attack and a positive blood test for inflammation. All received high doses of statins and either canakinumab or a placebo. The study lasted for four years.

In an article in The Guardian, research team leader Dr. Paul Ridker said, “For the first time, we’ve been able to definitively show that lowering inflammation independent of cholesterol reduces cardiovascular risk.”

He added, “This has far-reaching implications. 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.”

Learn more about studying cardiology.

 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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