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    Celebrex May Help Some Heart Patients

    Study Shows the Cox-2 Drug May Help Patients With Drug-Coated Stents
    By
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Aug. 16, 2007 -- The anti-inflammatory drug Celebrex appears to improve outcomes among heart patients treated with drug-coated stents, but experts say the risk to patients may still outweigh the benefits.

    In a newly reported study from South Korea, patients who took Celebrex prior to and after receiving stents to open clogged arteries were less likely to suffer another blockage in the treated vessels within six months than patients who didn't take the drug.

    Reblockage due to scar tissue formation, known as restenosis, is a common complication in heart patients treated with stents.

    No Increase in Heart Risk

    Researchers found no evidence of an increase in heart attacks or other adverse heart events among Celebrex users, but the drug's safety in heart patients remains an open question, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association (AHA) tells WebMD.

    Celebrex belongs to a class of painkillers known as Cox-2 inhibitors. The Cox-2 drug Vioxx was withdrawn from the market in the fall of 2004 after reports linked its long-term use to an increase in heart attack and stroke risk. Another Cox-2 inhibitor, Bextra, was removed from the U.S. market in 2005.

    Pfizer's Celebrex is the only Cox-2 inhibitor still sold in the U.S. Early this year, AHA officials issued a statement calling for its use "only as a last resort" in heart patients.

    "Celebrex has not been entirely free of adverse events in previously published trials, although its effects may not be as great as those seen with some of the other more Cox-2 selective drugs in the class," says Wake Forest University cardiology professor and AHA spokesman David Herrington, MD.

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