Study: aspirin-Plavix combo backfires in high-risk patients
BEIJING, March 14 (Xinhuanet) -- A new study has found that the drug combination of blood thinner Plavix and low-dose aspirin didn't help most people with heart disease, and even caused harm to patients at risk of a first heart attack or stroke.
Plavix has previously been shown to significantly reduce the risk of second heart attacks, and physicians assumed it would be equally helpful in preventing an initial attack when given alongside aspirin.
But an international study involving more than 15,000 patients with heart disease or risk factors for heart disease showed no overall benefit from the drug, researchers reported Sunday at an Atlanta meeting of the American College of Cardiology.
In the trial, 15,603 patients in 32 countries with either cardiovascular disease or risk factors for it were randomly selected to receive Plavix plus low-dose aspirin, or a placebo plus low-dose aspirin.
After an average of 28 months, the researchers found that among patients in whom Plavix and aspirin were used to try to prevent a first heart attack or stroke, 6.6 percent died or had a heart attack or stroke, compared with 5.5 percent of the patients taking aspirin alone.
However, among patients who had diagnosed heart disease at the start of the trial, 6.9 percent of those receiving Plavix plus aspirin died or had a second heart attack or stroke, compared with 7.9 percent of those taking aspirin alone.
The researchers found an excess of bleeding and deaths among the study patients at risk of heart disease who received the combination therapy.
The study concluded that the tandem therapy was of some benefit to those with diagnosed heart disease, but it nearly doubled the risk of death, heart attack or stroke in patients with heart-threatening conditions such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Study co-author Dr. Eric Topol, a professor of genetics at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and a leading U.S. heart expert, urged doctors Monday to stop prescribing Plavix (clopidogrel) plus aspirin to patients who have not had a previous heart attack or stroke.