Cardiac Clinical Trial Studies Use of Antibiotic In Preventing Heart Attack

HIGHLIGHTS: A clinical trial currently under way at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center could have profound ramifications for preventing recurring heart attacks by using a common, inexpensive antibiotic. AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEWS: Bojan Cercek, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Coronary Care Unit, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center P.K.Shah, M.D., Chairman, Division of Cardiology, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; Professor of Medicine, UCLA School of Medicine. LOS ANGELES (November 12, 1998) - A common, inexpensive antibiotic could reduce a second heart attack in patients who have already suffered an acute heart attack. In a clinical trial involving 1,400 patients, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center scientists, as well as collaborators at two facilities in Israel and three in Europe, are testing the effectiveness of the common antibiotic, Azithromycin, in preventing recurrent heart attacks.

"Of people who have just had a heart attack, 20 to 25 percent are likely to have another heart attack within the next six months," says Bojan Cercek, M.D., Ph.D., Lead Investigator and Director of the Coronary Care Unit at Cedars-Sinai.

"There is a growing body of scientific evidence implicating ongoing inflammation (accumulation of white blood cells) in plaque formation and plaque disruption that leads to blood clots and heart attacks, says P.K.Shah, M.D., Chairman of Cardiology at Cedars-Sinai.

According to Dr. Shah, "Cholesterol accumulation inside the plaque provides one of the stimuli for inflammation; the other may be bacterial/viral infection of the plaque. Therefore we designed the current AZACS study to determine the potential value of antibiotics for heart attack prevention."

"Chlamydia pneumonia, a common bacteria that causes respiratory infections, has been identified in 30 to 40 percent of plaques where it may stimulate the white blood cells to trigger a heart attack," says Dr. Cercek. "If this hypothesis is correct, treating the patient with the antibiotic Azithromycin

Contact: Sandra Van
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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