New Drug May Reduce Heart Disease

Statins are one of the most frequently prescribed drugs but heart disease is still the number one killer of Americans. The trial is the Canakinumab Anti-inflammatory Thrombosis Outcomes Study (CANTOS), and the drug, called Canakinumab, may be able to bring heart attack risk to an all-time low by targeting inflammation. This study is the first in which a systemic anti-inflammatory, a drug that reduces inflammation throughout the body, has been shown to lower heart attack risk independent of cholesterol-lowering medications. The purpose of the trial was to see whether reducing inflammation could reduce the risk of recurring cardiovascular events among people who had already had a heart attack and who had elevated levels of high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), an indication of systemic inflammation.

The results showed a 15 percent reduction in heart attacks and strokes for patients taking either 150 or 300 mg of the of Canakinumab, proving for the first time that inflammation plays a role in heart disease risk independent of cholesterol levels. .”

The need for invasive and expensive interventions, like bypass surgery and angioplasty, were reduced by more than 30 percent in patients taking Canakinumab, a far greater reduction than is usually found with the use of statins alone. The study also discovered that Canakinumab halved participants’ risk of dying from cancer. This was an incidental finding, but it may inspire cancer researchers may begin investigating the role anti-inflammatories may play in preventing cancer for high-risk patients.(In this study, the reduction in cancer deaths was balanced out by an increase in fatal infections among those taking Canakinumab, but further research may discover a way to minimize infection-related risks.)

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