Drug Cuts Death Risk for Heart Patients

Clonidine helps when given before non-cardiac surgery

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TUESDAY, July 27, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The anti-hypertensive drug clonidine helps cut the risk of complications and death caused by inadequate blood flow to the heart among non-cardiac surgery patients who have heart disease or are at risk for it, a new study says.

This is the second drug identified by this research team that can be taken before non-cardiac surgery in order to protect this group of patients; the other drug is the beta blocker atenolol. The new study, by researchers at the University of California-San Francisco and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, appears in the August issue of the journal Anesthesiology.

"In the earlier study we found an inexpensive way to reduce the incidence of death due to surgery. Now we have found another drug to do the same thing," lead researcher Dr. Arthur Wallace, associate professor of anesthesia and perioperative care, said in a prepared statement.

The study included 190 male patients who had non-cardiac surgery. All of the men had been diagnosed with at least two of five risk factors for cardiac disease: age 60 or older, hypertension, smoking within the previous year, a cholesterol level of 240 or greater, and diabetes.

The two-year, postsurgical death rate for those who received clonidine before surgery was 15 percent, compared to 29 percent for those who didn't receive the drug.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about heart disease.

SOURCE: University of California, San Francisco, news release, July 27, 2004

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