Harvard Men's Health Watch

Drugs to prevent heart attacks may also lessen their severity

In the Journals

People at high risk for a heart attack often take certain medications to reduce that risk. New research published online Sept. 14, 2016, by PLOS ONE explored whether taking such drugs not only lowers risk, but also reduces the severity of any attacks that do occur.

The study included 14,790 people hospitalized for acute coronary syndrome. About half of this group had a history of cardiovascular disease and a previous event, while the remainder had neither. The researchers compared patients’ past use of four types of drugs—aspirin, statins, ACE inhibitors, and beta blockers—and the severity of their disease, as measured by blood pressure, heart rate, and arrhythmias.

Compared with those who did not take these drugs, patients who took one, two, three, or all four types had a reduction of 23%, 33%, 52%, and 41%, respectively, in their risk for a major cardiovascular event, including recurrence of a heart attack. Plus, in cases of recurrence, the second heart attack was less severe in people who had been taking these medications.

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