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Drug Combo Cuts Death Risk for Heart Patients

Four inexpensive drugs lowered the odds by 90 percent, study finds

MONDAY, Feb. 16, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- An inexpensive four-drug combination reduces by 90 percent the death risk for heart attack victims and unstable angina patients.

That's what University of Michigan researchers report in the Feb. 16 online issue of Circulation.

The study of 1,264 adults found patients who took the combination of aspirin, a beta blocker, an ACE inhibitor and a statin had a 90 percent lower risk of dying in the six months after they were discharged from hospital than patients who took none of the four drugs.

Patients who took only two or three of the drugs also had a much lower risk of death than patients who received none of the drugs, the study says.

The four classes of medications in this study are: anti-platelets, which include aspirin and other drugs that prevent blood clots from forming; statins, cholesterol-lowering drugs; ACE inhibitors, blood pressure-lowering drugs; beta blockers, adrenaline-blocking drugs that ease the burden on the heart.

This is the first study to demonstrate the effect of these drugs used in combination.

"We knew that each of these kinds of drugs works pretty well alone, but we never expected that together they would be this powerful at improving survival," study author and cardiologist Dr. Debabrata Mukherjee says in a prepared statement.

"These results clearly show that the effect of combination therapy is synergistic, not just additive; the drugs work together to create a bigger benefit for the patient," Mukherjee says.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about how a heart attack is treated.

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, Feb. 16, 2004
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