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"Injections cut heart attack risk"

Anti-inflammatory injections could lower the risk of heart attacks and may slow the progression of cancer. The researchers behind the claim say that their work may usher in a new era of preventative cardiology.

Heart attack survivors given injections of a targeted anti-inflammatory drug called canakinumab had fewer attacks in the future, scientists found.

Cancer deaths were also halved in those treated with the drug, which is normally used only for rare inflammatory conditions.

The researchers enrolled more than 10,000 patients who’d had a heart attack and had a positive blood test for inflammation into the four-year trial.

All patients received high doses of statins as well as either canakinumab or a placebo, both administered by injection every three months.

Patients who received canakinumab reported a 15% reduction in the risk of a cardiovascular event. While the need for interventional procedures was cut
by more than 30%.

However, there were significantly more deaths from infection among those who received canakinumab–an effect large enough to cancel out the drug’s positive effects on mortality.

Dr Paul Ridker, who led the research team, said the results have “far-reaching implications”.

He said: “In my lifetime, I’ve gotten to see three broad eras of preventative cardiology. In the first, we recognised the importance of diet, exercise and smoking cessation. In the second, we saw the tremendous value of lipid-lowering drugs such as statins. Now, we’re cracking the door open on the third era. This is very exciting.”

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