Researchers at the University of Sheffield found patients in whom drugs have failed to reduce markers of inflammation in the blood, or who have high markers of inflammation after drugs are stopped, are at an increased risk of future heart attacks.
Inflammation is key to the development of atherosclerosis – a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries. This plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances found in the blood. Over time the plaque hardens and narrows arteries reducing the amount of blood flow leading to: angina, heart attack, stroke and peripheral arterial disease.
It is now understood that treatment with drugs that reduce inflammation in patients who have previously had a heart attack can reduce the occurrence of future events.
Dr Alex Rothman, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease, said: “Studies undertaken over many years at the University of Sheffield have linked inflammation and atherosclerosis and the first randomised study that showed drugs could alter inflammation in patients following a heart attack was performed in Sheffield. This work provided the basis for potential new treatments in the area.”
Dr Rothman, who is a Wellcome TrustcCareer development fellow and NIHR clinical lecturer in cardiology, added: “These new data highlight the risk of inflammation in patients with atherosclerosis and inform patients and doctors about the effects of anti-inflammatory drug therapy in this disease.”
Visit www.nejm.org for details of the study.