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News Information

Aspirin may not prevent heart attacks in 1 in 5 people

Date: Monday 30 September, 2013

News Summary:

The final results from an Irish clinical research study have shown that aspirin may be an ineffective treatment in preventing recurrent heart attacks in as many as one in five people.

News Content:

The research was done through the Irish Heart Foundation’s National Cardiovascular & Stroke Research Network (NCSRN Ireland). The study was led by Professor Dermot Kenny of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and the findings will be presented by Prof. Kenny at the Annual Scientific Meeting by the Irish Cardiac Society in Killarney (3-5 October 2013).

Patients who have suffered from heart attacks in the past are at higher risk of having another attack than the general population. Aspirin is an inexpensive but effective drug which helps reduce the risk of recurrent heart attacks in people that suffer from heart disease. The drug typically reduces mortality rates in patients that suffer from heart disease by 25 per cent.

The final study results from the NSCRN Ireland supported study showed that in 20% of those patients taking aspirin as a preventative medicine, the drug may be ineffective.

The research which was conducted in eight different hospitals (University Hospital Galway, Beaumont Hospital, Mater, St. James’s, St. Vincent’s, Tallaght, Mercy University Hospital Cork, Cork University Hospital)  from across Ireland with the consent of over 700 patients who suffer from heart disease. It identified that the patients at the highest risk of an inadequate response to aspirin therapy were younger men in their forties with diabetes and high blood pressure who may also be obese and have high alcohol consumption levels.

Professor Kenny commented: “The profile of the patients who are not adequately protected are typically men with high blood pressure, overweight and with a high alcohol intake. This group, who are at high risk of recurrent heart attack, are not getting the benefit of a cheap and generally effective therapy. Our study of over 700 patients with heart diseases in Ireland shows that about 20% of the patients are not protected by their existing therapy.”

Dr. Angie Brown, Medical Director, Irish Heart Foundation said: “The findings of this study are significant and point to the critical role of clinical research in identifying this ‘at risk’ group of patients. We hope it will drive the establishment of new approaches to allow for accurate identification and management of this ‘at risk’ cohort of patients in secondary prevention. We need to further explore if these study findings amount to an adherence issue or a pharmacological resistance to aspirin. The evolution of NCSRN Ireland  may be pivotal to further research in this area and indeed supporting the broad spectrum of collaborative research needs for cardiovascular disease and stroke”.

The Irish Heart Foundation established the ‘National Cardiovascular and Stroke Research Network’ (NCSRN Ireland) in 2011 and its members comprise Cardiovascular and Stroke Physicians and Scientists from across Ireland. The objective of the network is to enable more collaborative cardiovascular and stroke research studies like this to be done by physicians and scientists from across Ireland and allow for greater national engagement in large scale international clinical trials.

In Ireland an estimated 80,000 adults are diagnosed annually with coronary heart disease and this figure is expected to grow to more than 103,000 by 2020.  And 5,563  people were discharged from hospital with a primary diagnosis of myocardial infarction (heart attack) in 2011 and 2,157  people died from it in the same year.

ENDS

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