Saturday, April 11, 2009

Drugs Combination Could Raise The Risk of Another Heart Attack!

It is common practice for doctors to prescribe blood-thinning medication such as Plavix or aspirin together with a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) like Prilosec to their patients who had heart attack.

Plavix is also known as clopidogrel, and is manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis SA and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. On the other hand, Prilosec is a drug for heartburn and is product of AstraZeneca Plc. The purpose of taking PPI is to cut the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding from blood thinners.

However, the latest research showed that people who suffer a heart attack will nearly double their chance of getting another if they are taking Plavix together with a heartburn drug.

A study conducted by researchers from the Denver VA Medical Center indicated that two-thirds of the heart attack patients who took Plavix and aspirin together with a PPI, primarily Prilosec, had almost double the risk of having another heart attack or bout of unstable angina, comparing with those not taking a PPI. Their findings were published on March 3, 2009 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In the study, the researchers tracked some 8,205 United States patients, who were treated for a heart attack or chest pain known as unstable angina, and who were given Plavix and aspirin. The study highlighted a potential interaction between clopidogrel and PPI medication, and the researchers believed that this drug combination might be responsible for thousands of repeat heart attacks.

Therefore, they suggested that PPI medication should not just be prescribed routinely or prophylactically in patients who are on aspirin and clopidogrel.

Nevertheless, the findings have not been widely accepted among medical circles and some doctors actually express their worries. If PPIs are not prescribed for heart attack patients, it is possible that more bleeding complications would occur among the patients. It is undeniably that a big bleed for a patient with significant coronary artery disease could be fatal.

As such, some doctors urged caution regarding the findings. Perhaps, more studies should be carried out to strengthen the findings and better still to look for alternative ways of treatment.

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