Newer Drug Helps Prevent Heart Attack

Valsartan benefits older people at high risk for heart attack and stroke: study

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THURSDAY, June 17, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A new global study offers additional evidence that valsartan, a drug used to lower blood pressure, may benefit older people at high risk for heart attack and stroke.

The results of the VALUE (Valsartan Antihypertensive Long-term Use Evaluation) trial will appear in the June 19 issue of the journal The Lancet but were released early on line.

VALUE investigated whether valsartan -- one of a family of drugs called angiotensin-receptor blockers -- would reduce cardiac illness and death more effectively than another drug, the calcium antagonist amlodipine, in a group of patients at high risk for heart attack or stroke.

The study included 15,245 patients from 31 countries and was funded by Novartis Pharmaceutical Co., the maker of Diovan, the brand name for valsartan. All the participants were 50 years or older with treated or untreated high blood pressure, and they were randomly assigned to take either valsartan or amlodipine and followed for more than four years.

Both groups had similar rates of subsequent cardiac events. But people taking valsartan had much lower rates of admission to hospital for heart failure. And fewer people in the valsartan group (13 percent) developed type 2 diabetes than those in the amlodipine group (16 percent), according to the study

An earlier study, involving almost 10,000 heart attack survivors and released last year, found that valsartan was as effective as an older class of drugs called ACE inhibitors in preventing problems for people who have had heart attacks.

That study, which was presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, also found that combining valsartan and ACE inhibitors seemed to do more harm than good.

Both drugs act against angiotensin II, a protein that causes the narrowing of blood vessels and raises blood pressure.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about high blood pressure.

SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, June 16, 2004

- Robert Preidt

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