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Low cost meds could prevent heart attack

October 1, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
There are three, inexpensive medications that doctors say - taken together- could change the way many treat heart disease. One is a cholesterol lowering drug, the other lowers blood pressure and the third is aspirin. Less than a year ago, 74-year-old Joel Satzman had a heart attack. He survived with flying colors and he and his doctors think it might have something to do with three generic drugs he's been taking.

"I know that they probably contributed to saving my life," said Satzman.

Those three drugs were part of a Kaiser Permanente clinical trial which involved 170,000 ethnically diverse patients. About 68,000 took an aspirin, 40 milligrams of Lovastatin and 20 milligrams of Lisinopril every day. In the study, researchers estimate the drug therapy prevented about 1,300 heart attacks and strokes.

"You can effectively increase utilization of these drugs and prevent cardiac events fairly simply," said cardiologist Dr. Steven Kahn.

These three drugs could be obtained for $12 or less a month. Aspirin helps to thin the blood, a statin helps to lower cholesterol and an ACE inhibitor reduces blood pressure. The three work together to reduce heart attacks and strokes.

"The risk of stroke is related to a number of different things," said Dr. Kahn.

Dr. Kahn says the study shows any person with risk factors for heart disease should talk to their doctor about taking the three pill regimen.

"I think anybody who is at risk of having heart disease should talk to their physicians, diabetics over the age of 55 and anybody with any kind of coronary artery disease," said Dr. Kahn.

At 74, Joel says his blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol are all normal. He says the study results are impressive.

"It is so encouraging. It is very encouraging," said Satzman.

Considering that about 240 million Americans today suffer from heart disease, the results from this study could have widespread implications for the treatment of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart attack.

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