Three-Drug Combo May Best Protect Heart

Aspirin, statin and beta-blocker trio beats any one drug alone

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THURSDAY, May 5, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- A combination of three drugs -- aspirin, blood pressure-lowering beta-blockers and cholesterol-lowering statins -- improves survival for coronary heart disease patients much more than taking any one of those drugs alone, researchers report.

The study of more than 13,000 patients diagnosed with ischemic heart disease between 1996 and 2003 is the first large-scale, long-term trial to report the effect of different drug combinations in reducing the risk of death in heart disease patients.

According to researchers at the University of Nottingham, England, the combination of statins, aspirin and beta-blockers resulted in an 83 percent reduction in deaths among these patients, the study found.

Adding an angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor -- another type of blood pressure-lowering drug -- provided no additional benefit, the researchers said.

Using the ACE inhibitors alone reduced deaths by 20 percent, and using only beta-blockers cut them by 19 percent, the researchers report in the May 7 issue of the British Medical Journal.

Experts have previously suggested that a statin-aspirin-beta-blocker combination, along with folic acid, be developed into a single pill that could be taken by everyone age 55 and older.

While this study offers evidence that such a pill could benefit people with pre-existing heart disease, there's no evidence that such a pill should be prescribed to all people over age 55, the study authors conclude.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about ischemic heart disease.

SOURCE: British Medical Journal, news release, May 6, 2005

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