Breakthrough: Miracle drug could prevent heart attacks

Breakthrough: Miracle drug could prevent heart attacks

A diabetes drug may prevent heart attacks and stroke, according to a new study.

In what could be a groundbreaking new discovery, scientists have found that the diabetes drug pioglitazone could lower the risk of stroke and heart attack dramatically.

The drug, sold under the name Actos, was used in a large clinical trial of insulin-resistant stroke patients, where Yale University researchers found that the number of cardiovascular events declined by nearly a quarter over a period of five years, according to a National Institutes of Health release.

“This study represents a novel approach to prevent recurrent vascular events by reversing a specific metabolic abnormality thought to increase the risk for future heart attack or stroke,” Walter J. Koroshetz, M.D., said in a statement. Koroschetz is director of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which supported the large international study.

Previous studies have provided evidence that the durg helps prevent stroke and heart attack in sufferers of type 2 diabetes, but there is controversy over the drug because it carries an increased risk of edema and heart failure.

“The IRIS trial supports the value of more research to test the vascular benefits of other interventions such as exercise, diet and medications that have similar effects on metabolism as pioglitazone,” Walter N. Kernan, M.D. professor of general medicine at Yale University School of Medicine and the lead author of the study, said in the statement.

The study includled 3,000 patients from seven countries who had had a stroke or heart attack in the previous six months. They received either pioglitazone or a placebo for up to five years. Those who took pioglitazone experienced a stroke 9 percent of the time, compared to 11.8 percent on placebo, a 24 percent decrease.

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