Researchers identify simple methods to prevent heart attacks and stroke

Simple pharmacological solutions to prevent heart attacks and stroke worldwide have been proven effective by an international team involving Leicester researchers.

The research team led by the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences studied more than 12,000 patients from 21 countries to evaluate drugs that can prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD leads to 18 million deaths and about 50 million heart attacks and strokes globally every year.

The research was hosted in the UK by the University of Leicester and the NIHR Leicester Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit, based at Glenfield Hospital, with Dr William Toff and Professor Kamlesh Khunti serving as the UK National Leads. 

The treatments examined included two established forms of therapy, namely statins, a group of cholesterol-lowering drugs, and antihypertensives, a class of drugs used to treat high blood pressure. In addition, a combination of statins and antihypertensives was assessed.

Statins were found to significantly and safely reduce CVD events by 25 per cent in patients at intermediate risk but without evident CVD. Antihypertensives did not reduce major CVD events overall in the population studied but they did reduce such events in the group of people with hypertension at entry to the study.

When combined, statins and antihypertensives reduced CVD events by 30 per cent—with a 40% benefit in those with hypertension, suggesting that patients with hypertension should not only lower their BP but also consider taking a statin.

The HOPE-3 study is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and AstraZeneca.