Dallas, June 1 -- Two clot-thinning drugs may be better than one for treating heart attacks, according to results of new study that appears in today's Circulation:Journal of the American Heart Association.
One drug, called a thrombolytic, dissolves blood clots. The second drug, a platelet IIb/IIIa receptor blocker, keeps platelets from clumping and forming the blood clots that can obstruct blood flow and thereby trigger a heart attack or stroke. The platelet blockers, sometimes called "super aspirin" are more potent than aspirin. They are also administered through an intravenous drip or infusion.
According to lead investigator of the study, Elliott Antman, M.D., director of the Coronary Care Unit at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, "The trial tested the hypothesis that the platelet blocker is a potent and safe addition to thrombolytic regimens."
Results of the new study, called the TIMI 14 trial, are so impressive, that researchers say that many individuals with heart attacks who otherwise would require angioplasty or bypass surgery to restore blood flow to the heart may be treated instead with both drugs. Angioplasty involves using a narrow tube with a deflated balloon on its tip that is passed into the narrowed part of the artery. When the balloon is inflated, the blockages or blood clots are pushed aside, allowing blood to flow through. Bypass surgery is an operation that uses blood vessels "borrowed" from another part of the body to go around clogged coronary arteries to reestablish blood flow to the heart.
According to J. Ward Kennedy, M.D., who wrote an accompanying editorial, the investigators have "made a major contribution to the management of acute myocardial infarctions (heart attacks)" -- and identified a therapy, which will likely prove to be equivalent or superior to opening blood vessels with medical procedures such as angioplasty.