Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cheap four-drug combo saves heart patients’ lives

17.02.2004


Ninety percent cut in death risk from aspirin, beta blocker, ACE inhibitor and statin

An inexpensive cocktail of four tiny pills can make a big difference in heart patients’ death risk, a new University of Michigan study finds. And the life-saving effect of the four-drug regimen is bigger than the sum of its parts.

In the new paper, U-M Cardiovascular Center researchers report that heart attack and unstable angina patients who were prescribed all four types of proven medications had a 90 percent lower risk of dying in the six months after they left the hospital than those who received none of the drugs. Even patients who got only two or three of the drugs had a much lower death risk than those who got none.



The research is published in the rapid-access online edition of the journal Circulation, and an accompanying editorial notes the clinical importance of the findings.

The four classes of medications are:
  • Anti-platelets: Aspirin and other drugs that keep blood clots from forming
  • Statins: Cholesterol-lowering drugs
  • ACE inhibitors: Blood pressure-lowering drugs that have other beneficial effects
  • Beta blockers: Adrenaline-blocking drugs that ease the burden on the heart

Many studies have already shown that individual drugs in each one of the four classes can help prevent problems in patients with previous heart problems and clogged arteries. All four are recommended in national guidelines for doctors. And all four classes of drugs include many individual medications, with at least some available in inexpensive generic form.

The new study is the first to show the power of the four types of drugs together, and it does so in a "real world" setting of 1,264 adult patients treated between 1999 and 2002. All the patients had been admitted to the U-M hospital with an acute coronary syndrome: either myocardial infarction (heart attack) or unstable angina.

The results surprised the researchers, who analyzed the patients’ hospital records to see how many of the drugs they had been prescribed and to determine how many would be appropriate for them. Then, they checked in on the patients six months after they left the hospital to determine if they were still living.

"We knew that each of these kinds of drugs works pretty well alone, but we never expected that together they would be this powerful at improving survival," says lead author and U-M cardiologist Debabrata Mukherjee, M.D. "These results clearly show that the effect of combination therapy is synergistic, not just additive: the drugs work together to create a bigger benefit for the patient."

This amplified effect may stem from a beneficial interaction between the ways in which the four types of drugs fight the plaque that builds up in clogged, hardened arteries -- the atherosclerosis that leads to chest pain and reduced blood flow to the heart.

The bottom line for patients, Mukherjee says, is that people who have a history of heart attack or unstable angina should talk with their doctor about making sure they receive prescriptions for as many of the four types of medications as they are eligible for.

And, he notes, they should ask for generic drugs whenever possible. If all four drugs in the cocktail are generic, the total cost may be under $50 a month. "That’s a lot of bang for your buck," he says.

The bottom line for physicians is also clear, says U-M CVC clinical director and senior author Kim Eagle, M.D. "Get in line with the guidelines published by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, and help as many patients as possible benefit from these four proven therapies. There’s no reason not to."

Eagle notes that the study’s result confirms a known real-world problem: Despite those national guidelines, not all heart attack and unstable angina patients get prescribed all the drugs they should. No drug was prescribed to 100 percent of eligible patients in the study, and 40 percent of patients who could have received ACE inhibitors didn’t. About 5 percent lacked an aspirin prescription, almost 18 percent didn’t get beta-blockers, and 16 percent weren’t prescribed statins.

Since the study ended in 2002, U-M has created a system that reviews each inpatient’s eligibility for these agents, and their lifestyle goals, before the patient is discharged, in order to enhance the long-term outcome for every patient. Says Eagle, "We have now created a system to guarantee the best possible treatment at discharge for these at-risk individuals."

About 70 percent of patients in the study had suffered a heart attack, and 30 percent had unstable angina. Just over 63 percent of the patients in the study were men, and the average age was nearly 64. Two-thirds of the patients included in the study had blood tests positive for biomarkers that indicate damage to the heart muscle, while others were included because of symptoms of acute coronary insufficiency or an electrocardiogram that indicated a blockage in a heart blood vessel.

Patients tended to be obese and many were smokers, with a large percentage having a history of heart attack, angina, high blood pressure and high cholesterol before the acute episode that sent them to the hospital. A sizable minority had a history of stroke, heart failure or diabetes, and many had had angioplasty or bypass surgery in the past.

The researchers reviewed each patient’s chart and assigned each a score based on what percentage of the four drug classes they had been prescribed, compared with how many drugs they were eligible to receive based on ACC/AHA guidelines. This score corresponded with an "Appropriateness Level" of 0, I, II, III or IV, with IV being the highest.

Patients who were prescribed none of the four drugs were assigned to Level 0, while those who were prescribed one of the four drugs when they could have been given three or four were grouped into Level I. Patients who received two drugs but could have used three or four, and those who received one when they could have taken two, were classed in Level II. Those who got three medications but could have taken all four were in Level III, and those who were prescribed all four were in Level IV.

In all, Level IV patients had a 90 percent lower risk of dying in the six-month follow-up period than the Level 0 patients. Level III patients and Level II patients also had an advantage over Level 0 patients, of 83 and 82 percent, respectively. And even Level I patients did better with just one drug than those who got none, showing a 64 percent lower risk of dying.

"These very high risk patients received a tremendous benefit from the preventive effects of these drugs, and we need to seize the opportunity to make sure that all patients receive appropriate care," says Mukherjee. "Simple things can make a big difference, if we use them as we know we should."


In addition to Mukherjee and Eagle, the study’s authors are Jianming Fang, M.D., Stanley Chetcuti, M.D., Mauro Moscucci, M.D., and Eva Kline-Rogers, RN, all of the U-M Cardiovascular Center.

Kara Gavin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www2.med.umich.edu/prmc/media/relarch.cfm

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Using fragment-based approaches to discover new antibiotics
21.06.2018 | SLAS (Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening)

nachricht Scientists learn more about how gene linked to autism affects brain
19.06.2018 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View

22.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>