A ‘phenomenal’ pill taken twice a day could protect millions of heart disease patients from an early grave.
Rivaroxaban slashes the risk of dying from the world’s leading killer by 22 per cent when taken with aspirin, research has found.
In clinical experiments, the tablet, which is already used for other cardiovascular problems, also reduced strokes by 42 per cent.
The ‘ground-breaking’ trial, based on 27,000 patients from 33 countries, has since been halted – 12 months ahead of schedule.
Dr Derek Connolly, a heart consultant at Birmingham City Hospital who was involved in the global study, welcomed the breakthrough.
Rivaroxaban slashes the risk of dying from heart disease – the world’s leading killer – by 24 per cent when taken with aspirin, research has found
He told the Daily Express: ‘This is a phenomenal result and this treatment could save thousands of lives.
‘Cardiovascular disease is still the number one killer and reducing mortality by 15 per cent means that millions of heart attacks and deaths across Europe can be avoided.’
Dr Connolly added: ‘This is a ground-breaking result.’ The findings were published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
How was the trial carried out?
Scientists split the participants, who all suffered from coronary or peripheral artery disease (CAD/PAD), into three groups.
Some patients were given two 2.5mg doses of rivaroxaban, others were given the same alongside 100mg of aspirin. A third group was just given the aspirin.
What did the researchers find?
The combination reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke deaths by 22 per cent in patients whose condition was stable.
THE BEST HEART DRUG SINCE STATINS
Thousands of lives could be saved thanks to a new heart drug hailed as the biggest breakthrough since statins, it was reported last month.
In a landmark four-year trial, scientists found that the drug – given by injection every three months – cut the risk of heart attacks by a quarter.
The 10,000-patient study, involving 1,000 doctors in 39 countries, also suggested it could halve the risk of dying from lung cancer and prevent arthritis and gout.
Harvard Medical School scientists said the treatment marked ‘a new era of therapeutics’ that could save thousands of lives.
The drug, Canakinumab, works by reducing inflammation – a major new approach in heart medicine.
However, giving rivaroxaban on its own provided no extra benefits, the study, which was funded by Bayer, concluded.
CAD is deemed the most common type of heart disease, and is the leading cause of death in the US. It affects 15 million Americans.
In the UK, heart disease, which is led to by the condition, kills 230,000 each year. Worldwide, more than 17 million lose their lives to heart disease each year.
PAD, which causes a reduced blood flow to the limbs, affects around one in five over-60s, figures suggest.
Both conditions, often treated with aspirin, are caused by he arteries narrowing due to a build-up of deadly fatty deposits.
Despite use of drugs, around 5 per cent of patients will experience a life-changing, or deadly, cardiovascular event each year.
What is this drug?
Rivaroxaban is a blood-thinning drug which is already an option for atrial fibrillation patients on the NHS.
The health service’s rationing watchdog, Nice, also recommend the blood-thinner to be given to patients with blood clots.
Previous research has shown it to be less risky than aspirin – which has previously been found to double the risk of heart attacks and bleeding.
In the new COMPASS trial, the risk of major bleeding was higher in the patients who were given the combination treatment.
Other notable side effects can include abdominal pain, headaches, nausea and rashes. It can also lead to dry mouth and an abnormally fast heart rate.
Professor Jeremy Pearson, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said the results were ‘significant’ – despite the drug being expensive.