How can Asprin prevent a heart attack

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One of the largest studies aims to expand knowledge about the life-saving effects of acetylsalicylic acid in cardiovascular diseases

Millions of people around the world take Aspirin® every day to reduce the risk of repeated heart attacks or strokes. The active ingredient in the small white tablet, acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), is already recognized worldwide as the gold standard for preventing vascular occlusion. Research is also being carried out into the use of the substance in primary prophylaxis: A new study is now to scientifically substantiate whether acetylsalicylic acid can already prevent a first heart attack. Under the name ARRIVE (Aspirin to Reduce Risk of Initial Vascular Events) Bayer HealthCare is starting one of the largest clinical studies ever carried out in this area.

Over a period of five years, researchers under the direction of Professor J. Michael Gaziano from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, USA, will examine around 12,000 patients in five European countries for their cardiovascular risk. Their goal: to scientifically demonstrate the importance of low-dose Aspirin® in primary prophylaxis on a broad international basis. "Many people who are not pre-stressed by a cardiovascular event could benefit from the preventive properties of acetylsalicylic acid," says Professor Gaziano.

"If the study shows the hoped-for results, the widespread use of Aspirin® could prevent tens of thousands of heart attacks and strokes annually while significantly reducing health care costs," explains Dr. Wes E. Cetnarowski, Senior Vice President of Global Research & Development in the Consumer Care Division of Bayer HealthCare, based in the USA. The reason: cardiovascular diseases are becoming the number one cause of death.

Heart attacks and strokes are currently at the top of the sad statistics. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 17.5 million people die of heart or cerebral infarction each year. That is around a third of all deaths. The consequences for the health system are enormous. In Europe alone, an estimated € 169 billion was spent on the treatment of cardiovascular diseases in 2006. The ARRIVE study aims to make the Aspirin® active ingredient available to patients in an even more targeted manner in order to counter the advance of cardiovascular diseases worldwide.

Several studies have already shown: Even a low dose of the active ingredient Aspirin® can reduce the risk of a first heart attack in patients with a high cardiovascular risk by 32 percent. The Women's Health Study, in which 40,000 women aged 45 and over were followed for ten years, also confirms the effectiveness of acetylsalicylic acid. The risk of suffering a first stroke fell significantly by 17 percent. For women over 65 years of age, the risk of a first heart attack fell by 34 percent. For patients with several risk factors, the international medical societies recommend the prescription of low-dose acetylsalicylic acid in their guidelines. These include high blood pressure, family history, diabetes, obesity, and high blood lipid levels. Because of the very good risk-benefit ratio, the low-dose substance taken daily has already been approved as a proven and cost-saving drug in more than 30 countries for the prevention of a first heart or cerebral infarction.

ARRIVE is one of the largest studies worldwide that includes patients with moderate cardiovascular risk. The study ends when there is a sufficient number of cardiovascular events to evaluate. The experts assume five years. In addition to the USA, Germany, Italy, Spain and England are taking part in the international study.

last edited: 03.09.2007