DALLAS, Dec. 22 -- Individuals whose heart attack was treated with a type of blood-thinning drug had a 30 percent reduced risk of dying within four days, according to a study of more than 30,000 heart attack patients reported today in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
Like aspirin, the drugs called a platelet IIb/IIIa receptor blockers keep blood platelets from clumping and forming blood clots that can trigger a heart attack or stroke. However, the platelet blockers, sometimes called "super aspirins" and sold under the generic names of eptifibatide, tirofiban, and abciximab, are more potent than aspirin. They are also administered through an intravenous "drip," or infusion.
"Aspirin is valuable for treating people with heart attacks and unstable angina -- severe chest pain that is often a sign of impending heart attack," says the study's lead author, David F. Kong, M.D., fellow at the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, N.C.
"This new family of drugs works harder at making platelets less sticky, and they do it to a far greater degree than many other blood-thinners we've tried in the past."
The study, conducted by researchers at Duke, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and the Green Lane Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand, analyzed 16 studies of about 32,000 heart attack patients. Participants received the platelet blocker drugs as part of their treatment for either heart attack or severe chest pain. Some individuals in the study received only the platelet blockers while others were treated with the drug plus angioplasty -- a procedure that uses a balloon-tipped catheter to restore blood flow in the blood vessel.
The researchers investigated how well the drugs prevented heart attacks, deaths
from any cause, or the need for either angioplasty or bypass surgery, which
reroutes blood flow around a blocked blood vessel. The researchers examined the
drugs' effectiveness at three intervals: 48-96 hours; 30 days; and s
Contact: Brian Henry
American Heart Association