Study to test whether antibiotics can reduce heart disease risk

Volunteers Sought for Study on Whether Antibiotics Can Reduce Heart Disease Risk

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Doctors at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and 25 other centers will test whether antibiotics can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

"The study is to determine whether heart disease is an infectious disease that can be treated with an antibiotic." said John R. Crouse III, M.D., professor of internal medicine (endocrinology) and public health sciences, who will head the Wake Forest component of the national clinical trial. "We think it is a really exciting study."

Medical researchers have found that a common type of bacteria, called Chlamydia pneumoniae, may be associated with atherosclerosis -- hardening of the arteries. Nearly everybody gets a respiratory infection caused by Chlamydia pneumoniae at some time in their lives, and severe infections can lead to bronchitis and pneumonia.

In the late 1980s, Chlamydia pneumoniae was discovered in samples of diseased coronary artery tissue. Two small trials showed positive results when patients with heart disease were treated with an antibiotic.

The national clinical trial was the outgrowth of those pilot studies. In the trial, to be called the Azithromycin and Coronary Event Study (ACES), doctors will test whether the antibiotic azithromycin (Zithromax) will reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

About 4,000 volunteers will be recruited nationally. Participants will be assigned at random to either a control group that will receive a placebo or the treatment group that will receive azithromycin. For one year, each participant will take one pill each week. Otherwise, participants will not be asked to change their current treatment for heart disease.

They will be followed for three more years to monitor for any coronary events, including hospitalization for heart attack, chest pain, co

Contact: Robert Conn, Mark Wright or Jim Steele
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center

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