A major breakthrough in heart treatment

Aspirin is the standard treatment for patients suffering from coronary heart disease. The breakthrough treatment consists of a daily dose of aspirin and an anti-clotting drug - clopidogrel. The combination has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of a patient dying from heart disease, having a repeat heart attack or suffering from a stroke.

The study was performed by cardiologists at the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust and researchers from McMaster University in Canada. 12,500 patients who were suffering from severe chest pains thought to be caused by angina or heart attacks were administered the aspirin-clopidogrel combination for about 12 months. They noticed that the treatment was helping to remove blood clots and easing the blood flow within six hours and that this effect reached its peak within a month.

Investigators found that overall there was a 31% reduction in cardiovascular death. The study also suggests that the long-term treatment with clopidogrel offers a better treatment because there is a 25% reduction in the risk of heart attack or death from cardiovascular causes. It was also found to be most effective in high-risk patient groups. This treatment is beneficial in reducing both early and late major ischaemic cardiovascular events and is simple and safe.

The Lancet; Aug 2001, vol 358: (9280)