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Drug Combo May Prevent Heart Attacks, Strokes
Date:10/2/2009

'Inexpensive, well-proven medications' could have huge impact, expert says

FRIDAY, Oct. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Giving daily doses of a statin and a blood pressure-lowering ACE inhibitor to people at high risk for a heart attack or stroke reduced their incidence by more than 60 percent in two years, researchers report.

People in the study all had diabetes or a history of cardiovascular disease, but the drug regimen probably could provide similar benefits to anyone vulnerable to cardiovascular trouble because of obesity, high blood pressure or simply old age, said Dr. R. James Dudl, diabetes clinic lead at the Kaiser Permanente Care Management Institute in Oakland, Calif., and lead author of a report in the October issue of the American Journal of Managed Care.

The study was based on a model that assumed that high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure were each responsible for about 25 percent of cardiovascular risk, Dudl said.

"We hypothesized that while there were different mechanisms, the effects are additive," Dudl said. "Our model showed a potential 71 percent drop in cardiovascular risk."

The study was done on a large scale and included 170,024 members of the Kaiser Permanente health plan in California, all aged 55 or older. They were divided into three groups: 21,292 who took the bundled drugs more than half the time in 2004 and 2005, 47,262 who took the drug bundle less than half the time and 101,464 who took neither or just one drug during the study.

Their use of the medications was determined by monitoring their prescription refill records. Participants were also advised to take low-dose aspirin daily, but their use of that medication could not be determined because it is not a prescription drug, Dudl said.

After taking the drugs for two years, the rate of heart attacks and strokes in the next year was reduced by 26 per 1,000 people among those in the high-use group
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