A major study undertaken has found that an anti-inflammatory drug, ‘canakinumab’, originally designed to treat rheumatoid arthritis, could also reduce the risk of having another heart attack in people who have already had one.
To understand whether this drug would help, 10,000 people who had already had a heart attack were assigned to receive either injections of canakinumab or a placebo.
Canakinumab is what’s known as a monoclonal antibody, an engineered antibody designed to modify the immune system. Its ability to turn off the process of inflammation has offered substantial benefits for serious inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
Researches suggested that ‘not everyone who has a heart attack has raised cholesterol levels, leaving ambiguity to whether prescribing statins to this group of patients would reduce the risk of another heart attack. This research offered an opportunity to see whether an anti-inflammatory drug such as ‘Canakinumab’ would offer more benefit.
The research, undertaken over a four-year period included 10,000 people who had previously had a heart attack. The participants were given either the drug ‘canakinumab’ or a placebo. The results showed people who received the higher doses of canakinumab (150mg or 300mg) were significantly less likely to have had another heart attack or a stroke, or to have died from cardiovascular disease.
The research also identified that the drug lowered white blood cell counts and increased the risk of fatal infection. The study concludes that before any changes are made to the current licensing of the drug, further research is needed to confirm the beneficial effects and the optimal dose and importantly, researchers will need to focus on the observation of increased risk of fatal infection.
NHS Choices. (2017). Anti-inflammatory drug may help prevent heart attacks. Available: https://www.nhs.uk/news/heart-and-lungs/anti-inflammatory-drug-may-help-prevent-heart-attacks/. Last accessed 5th Oct 2017.
BBC News. (2017). Anti-inflammatory drug may help prevent heart attacks. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-41071954. Last accessed 5th Oct 2017.