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New Drug to Help Stop Heart Attacks

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(STANFORD, Calif.) – A new experimental drug may help reduce the risk of blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes by 22 percent, according to a new study conducted by Stanford and Harvard researchers.

Some 600,000 people a year undergo a stenting procedure, in which surgeons insert a small mesh tube that props open blocked vessels in the heart following a heart attack or chest pain. A blood thinning agent is used during this common procedure to prevent further heart attacks, but the current drug is not ideal for a number of reasons.

Enter cangrelor, a new blood thinner shown to be a significant improvement in decreasing blood clots when compared to the older drug, clopidogrel.

Researchers studied 11,000 patients across the U.S. and found that while 5.9 percent of patients using the older drug reported blood clots, only 4.7 percent of patients on the newer canrelor did. This could mean that the new drug could prevent 7,000 people from experiencing blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes every year.

Cangrelor is an improvement over the clopidogrel, the older drug more commonly known by its brand name of Plavix, in several ways. Clopidogrel is taken orally, which can be a problem if a patient is very sick, and the drug is slow to act, and stays in the patient’s system for days after it is needed. The new drug is fast acting, reversible, and taken intravenously.

The study found that there were there were no serious side effects found when using cangrelor aside from some increased bleeding, which is to be expected with any blood thinner.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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