TUESDAY, Feb. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Aspirin works as well as Plavix in patients with blocked leg arteries, a new European study finds.
People with the condition, called peripheral artery disease, often suffer from intermittent claudication, which is pain while walking because of decreased blood supply to the legs. Animal experiments had suggested that aspirin might block the growth of blood vessels that bypass blockages and help get more blood to leg tissue, the Swiss and German researchers said.
"Once again, we have shown that what happens in animals doesn't translate to humans," said Dr. Juan Zambrano, an assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine, coronary/endovascular and stem cell therapies at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Patients suffering from peripheral artery disease are also at increased risk of heart attack and stroke from blood clots traveling from the legs to the heart or brain, which is why these patients are given blood thinners such as Plavix (clopidogrel) or aspirin, explained Zambrano.
"Either aspirin or Plavix is acceptable as a good preventive measure to avoid heart attack or stroke in these patients," he said. "A lot of people favor aspirin because it's cheaper."
However, the most interesting part of this study to Zambrano was the role of exercise in improving walking distance and time.
"Something as simple as exercise can help improve claudication," he said. "Exercise is key and it doesn't matter how you treat the underlying condition, exercise is always going to help."
The report was published online Feb. 21 in the journal Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Disease.
For the study, a team led by Dr. Kurt Jaeger from University Hospital Basel in Switzerland, looked at the effectiveness of aspirin and Plavix in helping peripheral artery disease patients improve pain-free walking distance, w
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