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High Hopes for Blood Pressure Drug for Preventing Heart Attack, Stroke

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This trial is the first to strongly suggest that ACE inhibitors, the class of blood pressure medications to which Altace belongs, have effects on the lining of blood vessels and prevents the rupture of cholesterol plaques that leads to a heart attack or stroke, according to Sleight. Although half the subjects had high blood pressure, he says, "they were under good control [at the beginning of the study]." Altace's modest effect on these patients' blood pressure "would not account for more than a quarter of the benefit seen in [heart attack] reduction," he says.

An unexpected finding with Altace was "a 30% reduction in the development of new diabetes," says Yusuf, who tells WebMD that his team is already planning a closer look at Altace's implications in diabetes.

Regarding vitamin E, Yusuf says that after five years of treatment, there was no impact of vitamin E on reducing death, strokes, and heart attacks. Although it's not known "whether long-term treatment will have a benefit," he says that he "would not rule it out, but certainly would not recommend the use of vitamin E."

Altace is currently approved by the FDA for high blood pressure and for prevention of death following a heart attack or heart failure. Yusuf hopes that these findings will lead to a new use for this medication.

The HOPE study received sponsorship and funding from the Medical Research Council of Canada, Hoechst-Marion Roussel, Astra, and the Natural Source Vitamin E Association, with contributions from NEGMA Pharma, Monarch Pharmaceuticals, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario.

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