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What Can Plavix and Aspirin Do For Heart Disease Patients With AF?

Posted Dec 11 2009 6:22am
A blood thinner, a common name for an anticoagulant agent, is a drug used to prevent formation of blood clots by hindering coagula. Blood thinner does not really thin the blood; it just prevents the blood from clotting. Doctors usually prescribe blood thinners to heart disease patients who are at risk for heart attack and stroke.

So far, anticoagulants such as warfarin and aspirin have been the only effective therapies in treating heart disease patients suffering from atrial fibrillation (AF). AF is a condition in which the heart's 2 upper chambers, the atria, quiver instead of beating effectively. This will raise the risk of blood clotting or pooling in the chambers that could eventually trigger a heart attack or stroke.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), there are some 2.2 million Americans suffer from AF. These patients often need to be fitted with a pacemaker. Yet many of them cannot be treated with warfarin to stop blood clotting because warfarin increases the risk of an internal hemorrhage by up to 70 percent.

At the annual conference of the American College of Cardiology in Orlando on March 31, 2009, researchers from Ontario's McMaster University revealed that they managed to help AF patients cut the risk of heart attack and stroke by combining Plavix with aspirin.

Plavix is known under the generic name of clopidogrel. It is used to prevent the platelets in blood from coagulating and forming clots.

ACTIVE-A, a clinical trials involving 7,554 patients, aimed to determine whether the addition of clopidogrel to aspirin could reduce major vascular events and stroke in AF patients at an acceptable risk of increased hemorrhage. In the trials, the researchers showed that combination of Plavix and aspirin could help AF patients who are unable to take other blood thinners like warfarin.

The combination of clopidogrel and aspirin reduced major vascular events by 11 percent, including a 28 percent reduction in stroke and a 23 percent reduction in myocardial infarction (also known as heart attack), as found in the study.

It is believed that this is a new treatment for AF for the first time in 20 years.
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