Giving heart attack patients a dose of so-called super aspirin before, rather than during, a procedure to restore blood flow to the heart could save tens of thousands of lives a year, new research suggests.
In a major international study presented Sunday at a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology, scientists found that giving heart attack victims the drug Plavix when they arrive at the emergency room almost halved the risk of a stroke, a repeated heart attack or death within the first month after angioplasty.
Angioplasty a procedure in which doctors thread a needle through the blood vessels and implant a tiny, flexible mesh tube to prop open narrowed or clogged arteries is performed on about 2 million people worldwide every year, reports Detroit Free Press.
According to Reuters, Dr. Marc Sabatine of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston presented the findings on Plavix which is the world's fourth-biggest-selling drug, with annual sales of more than $5 billion a year at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in Stockholm.
Overall, Sabatine and his colleagues concluded that one major cardiovascular event could be prevented for every 23 people pre-treated with Plavix, whose chemical name is clopidogrel.
"That is an amazingly big benefit that results from one to three extra doses of clopidogrel," said Sabatine's associate Dr. Christopher Cannon.
Pre-treatment was beneficial regardless of the patient's age or sex or the delay until angioplasty was undertaken.
The drug was given in addition to the standard treatment of aspirin.