Health & Wellness

Inexpensive Drug Proves a Promising Heart Treatment

A new treatment has been found to reduce risk following a heart attack

Photo: iStock/wildpixel.

Administering a medication typically used to treat gout can reduce the chance of further cardiac problems by 23% in those who’ve suffered a heart attack, according to new research from the Montreal Heart Institute. The results of the study were presented at the November 2019 congress of the American Heart Association in Philadelphia by Montreal cardiologist Jean-Claude Tardiff.

Just over 4,700 patients, primarily men, were followed for an average of 22.5 months to see how they reacted when provided low-dose colchicine, an anti-inflammatory generally used to treat gout and pericarditis. The average age of participants was 61 and all had sustained a heart attack within the last 30 days before being given the drug or a placebo.

Compared to those provided a placebo, the researchers found that those administered the anti-inflammatory were 75% less likely to experience a stroke in the two years following their heart attack. Heart surgery following an attack also reduced by 50%.

“It is likely that the inflammatory process is responsible for the high rate of cardiovascular events despite significant advances in the treatment of risk factors such as hypercholesterolemia and hypertension,” the researchers wrote of the study. “It is vital to improve our understanding of the inflammatory nature of atherosclerotic disease and modify the inflammatory process with targeted therapies.”

The drug has another plus: it costs less than 50 cents per day.

Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada, despite being a preventable disease. The World Health Organization estimates that 80% of all heart disease can be prevented through following the right diet and exercising.