WEDNESDAY, Sept. 8, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The drug ramipril cuts the rate of sudden cardiac death and nonfatal cardiac arrest by 21 percent in people at high risk of heart attack or stroke.
That's the conclusion of a Canadian study in the Sept. 7 issue of Circulation.
Ramipril is an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor, a class of drugs often used to treat heart failure or left ventricular systolic dysfunction. But none of the patients in this study had either condition, the study authors noted.
The researchers analyzed data on 9,297 men and women, average age 66, at high risk for heart attack or stroke who enrolled in the Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation (HOPE) study. They were randomly assigned to take either ramipril, vitamin E or a placebo.
After an average of 4.5 years of treatment, 3.3 percent of the people taking ramipril had suffered either sudden cardiac death or nonfatal cardiac arrest, compared to 4.2 percent of those taking the placebo. There was no significant difference in the outcomes between those taking vitamin E and those taking the placebo.
Previous studies also found similar protective effects for other ACE inhibitors.
"The new findings should remind physicians of the importance of ACE inhibitor therapy. We now know that these drugs are not only good in preventing overall cardiovascular death, but also in preventing specific causes of death," study lead author Koon K.Teo, a professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, said in a prepared statement.
The study received funding from Aventis Pharma Inc., which manufactures ramipril.
The American Heart Association has more about heart attack.