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  health > heart > story pageAIDSAgingAlternative MedicineCancerChildrenDiet & FitnessMenWomen

Cardiology mapping new approaches to treatment


November 11, 1999
Web posted at: 1:56 a.m. EST (0656 GMT)

In this story:

Emergency angioplasty touted

Beta blockers lose some luster


By Medical Correspondent Rhonda Rowland

ATLANTA (CNN) -- On the final day of the American Heart Association meeting here, several recent findings reported from a number of large, international studies may change the way heart patients are treated.

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    Source: WebMD

    Contrary to previous claims, for example, a study designed specifically to test the effectiveness of vitamin E -- involving almost 10,000 patients in 19 countries, concluded that the vitamin does not benefit the heart.

    But the same study found a high-blood pressure drug called Ramipril, also known as altace, can prevent deaths in high risk patients.

    "With Ramipril, we had a very clear reduction in the risk of dying or having a stroke, or having a heart attack by one quarter," said Dr. Salim Yusuf of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

    It was reported that the drug also reduced the need for angioplasty and bypass surgery. Heart failure and the development of diabetes were also reduced.

    Emergency angioplasty touted

    Another study showed that if you do have a heart attack and are rushed to the emergency room, your odds of survival are best if you get emergency angioplasty -- specifically, angioplasty along with a stent -- a metal device that keeps arteries open -- along with a blood-thinning drug.

    "By implementing these types of therapies in the cardiac cauterization laboratory with balloons, stents and these anti-platelet drugs, we can reduce mortality to one out of 100 and save an additional five or six lives out of 100 patients treated," said Dr. Gregg Stone of Lenox Hill Hospital.

    But, according to experts, only about 20 percent of hospitals are set up to provide this treatment.

    Beta blockers lose some luster

      · Cardiac rehab benefits may be physical and psychological
      · Cardiology mapping new approaches to treatment
      · Last-chance surgery reshapes the heart
      · Healthy habits can reduce risk of heart disease
      · Heart doctors report promising results with gene therapy
      · Study: Pets curb dangerous rises in blood pressure

    Another research group found, to the surprise of researchers, that aspirin alone was superior to aspirin combined with warfarin -- a blood clotting prevention drug -- in preventing a second heart attack.

    "We hypothesized that using two agents together would have an added benefit, but we showed that that was not the case," reported Dr. Michael Ezekowitz of Yale University.

    Popular belief took another hit with a study that showed beta blocker drugs did not increase survival in advanced cases. Dr. Eric Eichhorn of the University of Texas Southwestern said another surprise was that patients other than African- Americans received the most benefit, suggesting that beta blockers may not help African-Americans with heart failure.

    It might appear that delegate doctors at the meeting would go home armed with the latest treatments for their patients. But it has been noted that it often takes years for new research information to be translated into everyday practice.

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