Antioxidant Drug Lowers Heart Deaths
Novel Drug Targets Underlying Roots of Heart Disease
March 27, 2007 (New Orleans) -- A novel drug that targets the underlying
roots of heart disease can cut the risk of heart attack and stroke and of dying
from the disease, a new study suggests.
If the results pan out in future research, "we would have a whole new
way of fighting heart disease," says researcher Jean-Claude Tardif, MD,
director of research and a professor of medicine at the Montreal Heart
Institute in Canada.
The drug, known as succinobucol, "has the potential to change the
practice of cardiovascular medicine," he tells WebMD.
Drug Targets Underlying Processes
Current drugs used to prevent heart attacks aim at modifying risk factors --
statins lower cholesterol, for example, while ACE inhibitors control blood
pressure, Tardif says.
Succinobucol, on the other hand, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
properties that target two underlying processes -- oxidative stress and
inflammation -- that can play a role in heart disease. (Oxidative stress is
where the body essentially has too many free radicals, which are waste products
produced by the chemical reactions in the body.)
Oxidative stress and inflammation contribute to the formation of
artery-clogging plaque and blood clots that can break off, blocking blood flow
to the heart and causing a heart attack, he explains.
Diabetes Risk Slashed, Too
The new study, presented here at the American College of Cardiology’s annual
meeting, was designed to see if adding succinobucol to standard drug therapy
would reduce heart attacks and death among patients with heart disease.
The researchers studied 6,144 people at high risk of future health problems
due to unstable angina (chest pain) or a previous heart attack. Almost all were
already taking aspirin as well as statin drugs, ACE inhibitors, and
beta-blockers to slow the heart rate and boost the heart's pumping ability.
About half were also given a succinobucol pill once a day and the rest, a
Over the next two years, those on succinobucol were 19% less likely to die
from heart disease, have a heart attack, or die than those on placebo.
Also, only 1.6% of those taking the drug developed diabetes vs. 4.2% on
Succinobucol was extremely safe, with diarrhea being the most frequent side
effect, Tardif says.
Drug to Be Used in Combo
Tardif stresses that the new drug would be given on top of standard heart
The Cleveland Clinic’s E. Murat Tuzcu, MD, chairman of the committee that
decided which studies to highlight at the meeting, says there is still more
work to be done.
But if the findings are confirmed, succinobucol "will have a big impact
in fighting atherosclerosis," he tells WebMD.