Hearty news

Published: Sunday 15 December 1996

AT A recent meeting of the American Heart Association in New Orleans, researchers report that a safer and better alternative to aspirin has been manufactured to inhibit heart attacks and strokes. The new blood thinner called clopidogrel was tested by a Canadian team of researchers on more than 19,000 people in 16 countries, who had suffered heart attacks, strokes or pain from clogged arteries in their legs.

Subjects were required to take aspirin or clopidogrel for periods ranging from one to three years. The tests revealed there were 5.8 new heart attacks, strokes or deaths from cardio-vascular disease annually for every 100 patients taking aspirin, compared to 5.3 for those taking the new drug. The mechanism by which clopidogrel works, is similar to aspirin's; inhibiting platelets which form blood clots though in a different manner. The plus point is that it has fewer side effects. Patients taking the drug were less likely to suffer from gastrointestinal bleeding, compared to those taking aspirin.

The new blood thinner is expected to be costlier than aspirin.

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