The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 10, 2005 - 5A
New heart attack care
method proves effective
A-0 . . 1~
Studies show combining clotting
drug with anti-heart attack drugs
strengthens their effectiveness
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Adding Plavix to other anti-
clotting drugs typically given to heart attack patients saves
lives and prevents second heart attacks, two huge interna-
tional studies found.
The strategy is the first big advance in heart attack care
in more than a decade, since modern clot-busters were
shown to work, specialists said.
This cheap and simple treatment will have a big impact
in the nation's community hospitals, where most Ameri-
cans get care, they said. It could also help in developing
countries where heart surgery and procedures to open
blocked arteries are uncommon.
It really is a great day for heart attack patients," said
one of the researchers, Christopher Cannon of Harvard
The results of the two studies were presented yesterday at an
American College of Cardiology conference in Orlando. One of
the studies also was published online by the New England Jour-
nal of Medicine and will be in its March 24 print edition.
The studies looked at heart attacks caused by a large
clot that fully or almost completely blocks a major artery
- the type that accounts for about a third of the 865,000
heart attacks each year in the United States and the 10
These patients can be treated with emergency pro-
cedures to open the artery or with medications to dis-
solve the clot until they can be given an angiogram to
see whether they need surgery or angioplasty. But arter-
ies reclose about one-fourth of the time in people given
medications, doubling their risk of dying before a proce-
dure can be done.
Plavix already is used to prevent clotting, but its safety
and effectiveness for treating major heart attacks while
they are happening had not been tested until now. The
two studies were funded by the companies that sell Plavix
- Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Many of the
researchers have consulted for the companies.
One study, involving about 46,000 heart attack patients
in China, found that the risk of death, stroke or another
heart attack was 9 percent lower in patients given Plavix
along with standard anti-clotting drugs - aspirin, heparin
and the clot-busters TPA or streptokinase - than in those
who got the standard drugs alone.
The risks of bleeding and other serious side effects were
"The treatment was very effective and very safe," said
Dr. Zhengming Chen of the University of Oxford in Eng-
land, who led the Chinese study.
Two weeks of Plavix pills cost $50 to $100 per patient.
For every million heart attack patients treated this way,
5,000 deaths and another 5,000 major heart problems or
strokes would be prevented, Chen said.
The other study was led by Dr. Marc Sabatine of Har-
vard and the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and
involved 3,491 heart attack patients in Europe given stan-
dard drugs with or without Plavix.
The risk of death, another heart attack or artery reclog-
ging was 21.7 percent in those on standard drugs alone but
only 15 percent among those given Plavix. This amounted
to a 36 percent lower risk for those taking Plavix.
Doctors also found that Plavix appeared to be safe
even for patients about to have heart bypass surgery.
This is good news because surgeons are reluctant to
operate on people who recently received the drug, for
fear it will cause excessive bleeding.
Indeed, former President Bill Clinton's doctors cited his
Plavix treatment as a reason they delayed his bypass sur-
gery a few days last summer.
In an editorial in the New England journal, doctors from
Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the University
of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas said that
the results may have been particularly rosy in the European
study because patients generally had a lower risk than most
heart attack sufferers.
The study also did not include elderly and thin people,
who have a higher risk of bleeding from some anti-clotting
and blood-thinning treatments.
Bush: I will not tap petroleum to decrease gas prices
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - President
Bush said yesterday he understands pub-
lic concern about rising gasoline prices,
although his spokesman said the White
House will not tap an emergency petroleum
supply in response to the problem.
"Higher prices at the gas pump and ris-
ing home heating bills and the possibilities
of blackouts are legitimate concerns for all
Americans," Bush said from an auditorium
at the Franklin County Veterans Memorial.
In Franklin County, gasoline prices hover
at more than $2 a gallon and imported oil is
in the $55 a barrel range.
ply and conservation issues.
En route here, White House press secre-
tary Mark McClellan told reporters aboard
Air Force One: "We do not believe (the
reserve) should be used to manipulate pric-
es or for political purposes."
The reserve is in salt domes on the Gulf
Coast. It was created after the 1973 oil
embargo to counter supply disruptions.
A number of Democrats in Congress have
called on the president to release oil from
the emergency reserve to ease tight market
conditions, but the White House has repeat-
edly rejected such a move.
The impact of high energy prices is particu-
larly high on a manufacturing state like Ohio.
Bush's audience sat quietly through most
of his speech as he spoke of technical alter-
natives like hydrogen fuel, biodiesel and
clean coal technology.
He drew loud applause from his support-
ers when he said Congress should allow
drilling in the Alaska's wildlife refuge.
Environmentalists strongly oppose drilling
there because the area is home to wildlife and a
migration stopover for millions of birds.
Bush said drilling there would.create jobs
and reduce dependence on foreign oil by up
to a million barrels a day.
"We can now reach all of ANWR's oil by drill-
ing on just 2,000 acres," Bush said. "Two thou-
sand acres is the size of the Columbus airport."
"We do not believe (the reserve) should be used to
manipulate prices or for political purposes.
- Mark McClellan
White House press secretary