Thousands of Australians who suffer from angina, or chest pains, could cut their risk of heart attack by more than 40 per cent by taking a drug that lowers their heart rate, a study has found.
Research presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Barcelona found that the drug Ivabradine, marketed in Australia as Coralan, reduced the heart rate of people with coronary heart disease, cutting their risk of heart attack by 42 per cent and the need for surgery by more than half.
The drug is available in Australia but is not funded by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
It is estimated that 400,000 Australians have coronary heart disease, which is commonly associated with angina and remains the biggest single cause of death in Australia, claiming more than 20,000 lives a year.
Angina is a painful tightening in the chest that can spread to the arms or neck and is caused by reduced blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart. It can restrict activities because any movement can bring on pain.
A recent survey of angina sufferers in Australia found that one in three had a debilitating angina attack at least once a week.
Results from the first part of the so-called Beautiful study of 11,000 patients in 33 countries had earlier found that a person's heart rate was a powerful predictor of their risk of having a heart attack.
In the latest study of 1500 angina patients with heart disease, those given the relatively new heart rate-reducing drug Ivabradine in addition to their existing heart medications slashed their risk of heart attack.
The benefit was even more striking in patients with a heart rate of 70 beats per minute or more.
European heart experts welcomed the results, saying many patients with angina who were on existing heart medication such as beta-blockers still had heart rates of more than 70 beats a minute, increasing their risk of a heart attack. They said the newer drug worked in a different way to other medications.
University of Adelaide heart expert Professor John Beltrame, who carried out the survey of angina patients, said the latest results showed thousands of Australians could potentially benefit from newer therapies."With one in three patients suffering an angina attack at least once a week, we clearly need to be looking at treatments like Ivabradine," he said.
Should mental health patients be allowed to smoke?Vote
Copyright © 2013 Yahoo! New Zealand
All rights reserved.
Select your region to see news and weather for your area.