Published in NJ Heart and Lung News
The ASCOT, The Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial study, has been running since 1988. Its mission is to find the best interventions for cardiovascular disease. Its newest study, published in The Lancet, featured three different interventions. The results were so impressive that the study ended early.
1. Beta Blockers vs Calcium Channel Blockers
The first question addressed by the new study concerned blood pressure medication. What yielded better results, the researchers asked, the traditional approach of beta blockers, which work by relaxing the heart, or the newer calcium channel blockers, which work by relaxing blood vessels?
Although the study was intended to last sixteen years, it was stopped after a mere five and a half years, because the calcium channel blocker approach was so significantly better at preventing stroke and premature death. The new approach reduced the risk of death by stroke by 30% more than the traditional beta blocker approach.
2. Statins Plus Calcium Channel Blockers
The second question was whether the new approach worked in those who not only had high blood pressure, but also had high cholesterol.
Once again, the calcium channel blocker approach worked far better than the traditional beta blocker approach. Study participants who used statins to reduce their cholesterol —but switched their blood pressure medication to calcium channel blockers — benefited from a 21% reduction in death from cardiovascular disease over the course of ten years.
3. Statins — For Those with Normal Cholesterol?
The last question addressed by the new study was whether statins, normally prescribed for high cholesterol, would be effective in preventing coronary heart disease in people with high blood pressure but normal cholesterol levels.
The trial, in which participants received either a statin or a placebo, was stopped after just 3.3 years because the statins proved so effective. Even after the sixteen-year length of the study, the statin group showed a 15% lower risk of death from coronary heart disease.
Professor Mark Caulfield, co-author of the study, called the results “remarkable.” Not only did a promising new protocol for high blood pressure emerge, but this was the first time the use of statins was shown to reduce death from heart disease in people with normal cholesterol.
Regency Jewish Heritage pays close attention to news about treatment of heart disease. We have recently partnered with the area's leading cardiologists and pulmonologists to form The NJ Heart and Lung Center.™
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- Cardiologist and pulmonologist on site daily for immediate intervention
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