American Heart Association Announces Top 10 Research Advances For 1998 -- Gene Therapy Among The List

ood flow in the blood vessel. Those who received the platelet blockers had a 30 percent reduced risk of all-cause death than those who did not receive the drugs. The individuals who particularly benefited from the drugs were those who also were treated with angioplasty. In these individuals the drug was administered just as the coronary arteries were being opened by inflation of the balloon-tipped catheters used for the procedure. Studies are now underway to test the combination of platelet blockers and clot-dissolving medicines in heart attack patients.

3. Inflammation and heart attacks
The American Heart Association recommends that people at high risk for heart attack and stroke take aspirin because research studies have shown that this low-cost, over-the- counter drug helps prevent the blood clots that can trigger heart attacks and strokes. Aspirin, however, may have another benefit for people at high risk for heart attacks and stroke. Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory drug, and recent research suggests that the body's inflammatory response to an unnatural condition in the body -- a virus or other microbe, high blood cholesterol levels, or cigarette smoking --may play a role in cardiovascular disease. In recent years scientists were intrigued by research showing that the area of the blood vessel where a plaque obstruction develops can become inflamed and that the inflammation can actually weaken the surface of the plaque obstruction, making it more prone to rupture which can cause a dangerous blood clot. "This year, the 'news' is that the inflammatory response is not only localized in the blood vessel wall," Fuster says. "It also can occur not only throughout the bloodstream." Systemic inflammation may explain the development of blood clots on top of relatively stable plaque obstructions, thereby causing the occlusions in the coronary arteries that trigger heart attacks, says Fuster. "The critical issue here is that blood components that are

Contact: Cathy Yarbrough
American Heart Association

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