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The Tale of Two Heart Drugs

Study compares drugs used in angioplasty

THURSDAY, Aug. 1, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- A study in this week's issue of The Lancet clarifies the differences between two similar drugs given to people who have angioplasty to treat narrowed coronary arteries.

The drugs, tirofiban and abciximab, are used to reduce the clumping together of platelets in the blood, something that can cause complications during procedures to open narrowed arteries.

This study looked at outcomes for 4,809 people six months after they had coronary-artery angioplasty with stent placement. They found that 14.8 percent of the people who took tirofiban died, had a heart attack or had repeat surgery within those six months, compared to 14.3 percent of the people who took abciximab.

The study concludes that both drugs are similar in terms of preventing these long-term events. An earlier study by the same researchers showed that abciximab was significantly better than tirofiban at preventing death, heart attacks and repeat surgery within 30 days after people had angioplasty for narrowed coronary arteries.

"As studied, abciximab was more protective against a heart attack occurring during, or immediately following angioplasty. Yet the two drugs were associated with similarly low rates of death and renarrowing of the heart's arteries at six months. Our conclusion is that, while the more expensive drug (abciximab) is better 'up front', it provides little long-term advantage compared with tirofiban," says the study's lead author, Dr. David Moliterno of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

More information

For more on angioplasty, check out the Angioplasty PTCA site.

SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, Aug. 1, 2002
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