A new study shows that anti-inflammatory injections may lower the risk of heart attacks. Researchers are saying this is the biggest cardiology breakthrough since statins.
In the study, heart attack survivors that were given injections of the anti-inflammatory drug canakinumab had fewer attacks in the future. Incidentally, death from cancer decreased by half in participants treated with the drug normally used for rare inflammatory conditions.
Statins Don’t Address Inflammation
Statins have been the mainstay for heart attack prevention. They work by lowering blood cholesterol levels. However, 25% of people who have had one heart attack will suffer another within five years despite taking statins regularly. Many theorize this is due to uncontrolled inflammation within the coronary arteries.
The Research Study
A team of researchers team from Boston’s Brigham and Women’s hospital, theorized that by targeting the inflamed arteries with the potent anti-inflammatory patients would receive an extra benefit over statin treatment alone.
The study group consisted of more than 10,000 patients who’d had one heart attack and a tested positive for inflammation. In the Cantos study all patients received the same high doses of statins plus either canakinumab or a placebo. Both were administered by injection every three months during the four year study. The canakinumab injection group saw a 15% reduction in the risk of a cardiovascular events, and strokes. Also, the need for further intervention was decreased by more than 30%.
Dr. Paul Ridker, who authored the research, said the study will “usher in a new era of therapeutics.” For the first time, data was able to definitively show that lowering inflammation reduces cardiovascular risk, independent of cholesterol. Researcher hope the findings may be able to significantly improve the outcomes for a high-risk population.
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