Inflammation also contributes to heart attack

Inflammation also contributes to heart attack

Is cholesterol only thing that causes heart attack?


The recent research results say that inflammation ( a process that makes cuts red and painful ) also contributes to the heart attack. That’s why doctors recommend low-dose aspirin to prevent recurrent heart attacks to those have had been prey to the heart attack.

Statins are also recommended to get cholesterol and inflammation lowered down. And from now on doctors have started measuring inflammation levels in the blood.

But the level of inflammation to cause the heart attack is not yet clear.  And since the use of Statins,  it’s hard to tell either cholesterol or inflammation is extensive in causing a heart attack.

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine presented at the European Society of Cardiology meeting say that lowering inflammation alone without affecting cholesterol also reduces the risk of a heart attack.

In this study, 10,000 people who have had an experienced heart attack were randomly assigned to get injected with a placebo or different doses of a drug “canakinumab”.

This drug by Novartis is now approved to treat rare immune-related conditions and works to decrease inflammation without affecting cholesterol levels.

After 4 years, the people who got injected with this drug had a 15% lower chance of having a heart attack or stroke, as compared to those, didn’t get the drug.

The medication also decreased the need for angioplasty or bypass surgery by 30%.

Dr Paul Ridker, leader of the study and director of the centre for cardiovascular disease prevention at Brigham and Women’s Hospital says,

“Even I am pinching myself”.

He is also a pioneer in exposing the role inflammation plays in heart disease.

Dr. Paul Ridker also says,

“This outcome is more than we hoped for. The bottom line is we now have clear evidence that lowering inflammation through this pathway lowers rates of heart attack and stroke with no change at all in cholesterol.”

Even the heart attack in 25% people is likely to take place if a person maintains his cholesterol at recommended levels.  Because their inflammation is driving them towards heart disease.

The study recommends doctors to measure inflammation levels and cholesterol levels in their heart patients. CRP  (C-reactive protein ) test could help doctors in this regard.

Back in 2003, the American Heart Association started providing guidelines to doctors in using CRP testing. No any other benefit of this testing was since the patients should earlier be treated with statins, to lower both cholesterol and inflammation.

But now guidelines have been changed and the findings should clarify the procedure doctors can optimize the way to treat their heart patients. 50 % of the people who have had a heart attack tend to have high levels of inflammatory factors while the other 50 % have high cholesterol levels.

The CRP test could identify those with higher inflammation and deserving people to take a drug like canakinumab.

Currently, the drug is not approved for any heart conditions, but Novartis will continue doing more studies to confirm its effectiveness in treating heart disease.

Ridker has conducted another study that published in Lancet. This study argues that people using Canakinumab get lowered risks of any cancer. Lung cancer risks are reduced to 75 % and other cancer risks are reduced to 50 % according to Ridker.

Though the connection between heart disease and cancer does not seem obvious,  Ridker argues that a range of people facing heart attacks are smokers and smoking causes chronic inflammation in lungs and with the low inflammation level lung cancer chances are likely to be reduced.

However, cancer data is still preliminary and not confirmed. So studies are required in this matter. But the Dr Ridker’s  argument would do good in this case as Dr Otis Bradley says that free oxygen radicals and inflammation can damage DNA and can cause cancer, so inflammation can be taken as a factor in prostate cancer and colon cancer.

Would Canakinumab or aspirin contribute to standard cancer treatment?  Still not clear.




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