Prevention drugs cause heart attacks?

After surviving a heart attack, doctors often prescribe specific medications to prevent another one. Clopidogrel, the generic form of the blood thinner Plavix, and another drug called a proton pump inhibitor.

"A lot of times just because we know there is a higher risk of bleeding with Clopidogrel, we'll use these proton pump inhibitors or PPIS," said Dr. Thomas M. Maddox, Denver V.A. Medical Center.

Now, a new study is raising questions about how the two drugs interact.

"There was a suggestion from these platelet studies that the Clopidogrel didn't work as well in these patients that were also taking proton pump inhibitors," said Dr. Michael Ho, Denver V.A. Medical Center.

To better understand this interaction, researchers studied the outcomes of over 8,000 patients who had an acute cardiac episode and were prescribed Clopidogrel at the time of hospital discharge. Those taking the the combination had a 25- percent increased risk of having another heart than those who took the blood thinner alone.

"We did find that almost two-thirds of patients we looked at were taking both medicines, for a large number of patients," said Dr. Maddox.

"If a given patient is going to get Clopidogrel after a heart attack which the guidelines strongly recommend, that you should only give them a PPI medication if they have a very strong compelling reason for it," said researcher, Dr. John Rumsfeld.

Important information could change the way heart attack survivors are treated.

While study authors say the results of this study are convincing, they emphasize patients should talk to their physicians before discontinuing any medications to avoid potential unintended consequences.



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