- Al Sharpton, Trayvon Martin’s parents rally against Fla. ‘stand your ground’ law
- Hillary Clinton campaign got illicit funds from D.C. scandal figure
- Obama administration backs off plan to cut prescription-drug program
- Tickets linked to stolen passports purchased by Iranian middleman
- More than 3,500 police planned for Boston Marathon
- Ottawa day care suspends 2-year-old for ‘outside’ cheese sandwich
- Liam Neeson tells NYC mayor to ‘man up’ in horse carriage fight
- Real-life Dr. Doolittle to reveal how to talk to animals
- Climate change could bring back smallpox, researchers say
- Shoe-bomb witness to speak from London at N.Y. trial
Study: New drug cuts deaths after heart attack
ORLANDO, FLA. (AP) - People recovering from a heart attack or severe chest pain are much less likely to suffer another heart-related problem or to die from one if they take a new blood-thinning drug along with standard anti-clotting medicines, a large study finds.
But this benefit had a cost: a greater risk of serious bleeding, usually in the digestive tract.
Still, some doctors said the drug, Xarelto, could become a new standard of care for up to a million Americans hospitalized each year for these conditions. A low dose of the drug substantially cut the risk of dying of any cause during the study.
“Mortality trumps everything,” so a drug that improves survival is a win, said Dr. Paul Armstrong of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
He had no role in the study, discussed Sunday at an American Heart Association conference in Florida and published online by the New England Journal of Medicine. The study was sponsored by the drug’s makers _ Johnson & Johnson and Bayer Healthcare _ and some researchers work or consult for the companies.
Xarelto is approved now at higher doses for preventing strokes in people with a common heart rhythm problem and for preventing blood clots after joint surgeries. It works in a different way than aspirin and older blood thinners do.
Dr. C. Michael Gibson of Harvard Medical School led a study testing it in 15,500 patients around the world who were leaving the hospital after a heart attack or severe chest pain from clogged arteries.
All were prescribed aspirin and an older blood thinner. One-third also received a low dose of Xarelto, and one-third got a higher dose. After about a year on average, nearly 11 percent of those on just the usual medicines had suffered a heart attack, heart-related death or a stroke versus less than 9 percent of those on either dose of Xarelto.
The lower dose proved better and safer. Fewer than 3 percent of those getting Xarelto died of any cause during the study, compared with 4.5 percent of those getting just the usual medicines. That translates to a 32 percent lower risk with Xarelto.
“Our study group has been going for 27 years and we’ve not seen that” magnitude of benefit from a drug like this, said Dr. Eugene Braunwald of Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the study’s chairman.
To prevent a single heart-related death, heart attack or stroke, only 56 people would need to be treated for two years with a low dose of the drug, Gibson said.
However, serious bleeding was nearly four times more common with Xarelto, including bleeding in the head, a potentially disabling side effect. Fatal bleeding was no greater with Xarelto, though.
“There’s a trade-off” between thinning the blood to prevent clots and raising the risk of bleeding, said Dr. Roger Blumenthal, preventive cardiology chief at Johns Hopkins Medical Center.
Cost is another issue. Usual care for these patients is changing with newer drugs that have come on the market since this study started. One _ ticagrelor, sold as Brilinta in the U.S. and other brands elsewhere _ also proved beneficial for similar patients taking just aspirin instead of pricier additional medicines used in the Xarelto study.
Xarelto’s makers will seek approval to sell it for people like those in this study by the end of the year, a Johnson & Johnson spokesman said. A price has not been set, but the higher doses sold now for other purposes run more than $7 a day.
TWT Video Picks
By David Keene
Conference showed that the values Reagan cherished still endure
- Hillary Clinton campaign received funds from Jeffrey Thompson
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- Unanimous Senate passes bill on military sex assault to give victims more say in prosecution
- Atheists sue to remove 'Ground Zero Cross' from 9/11 museum
- Mitch McConnell on beating tea party: 'We are going to crush them'
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- Sharyl Attkisson resigns from CBS after months of talks
- George Zimmerman signs autographs at Orlando gun show
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again