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New life-saving heart attack medication identified

BOSTON Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), who led a massive multi-center, international clinical trial, have demonstrated that a new medication is just as clinically effective as a proven ACE inhibitor in improving outcomes for heart attack patients.

Nearly half of the one million heart attacks that occur each year in the United States are repeat attacks. To lower the risk of recurrence, physicians typically prescribe ACE inhibitors. Just over ten years ago these popular blood pressure therapies were adopted as an international standard when BWH researchers found they dramatically improved survival in heart attack patients. Now, another BWH research team has demonstrated that there is yet another treatment option to help preserve lives and reduce heart failure hospitalizations in this high-risk population.

The results of the VALIANT clinical trial that compared a newer class of medication known as valsartan, an ARB (angiotensin receptor blockers) to a proven ACE inhibitor - are being presented at the American Heart Association meeting at 11:05 AM on Monday, November 10 and posted early on the New England Journal of Medicine website that same day.

"We found valsartan to be as effective as a proven regimen of captopril in preserving lives," said Marc Pfeffer, MD, PhD, BWH cardiologist. "As clinicians we are always excited by opportunities to test new tools in the fight against heart disease. It appears that this therapy will be especially beneficial in producing the same cardiovascular benefits as ACE inhibitors, thereby providing patients and clinicians with an effective alternative."

In the VALIANT investigation, one the largest studies ever conducted in post heart attack patients, researchers led by BWH, University of Glasgow and Duke University, compared survival in three groups of patients--4,909 taking the ARB medication, valsartan; 4,885 taking both valsartan and the ACE inhibitor, captopril; and 4,909 takin
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