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Valley Focus | Northridge

Drug-Testing Program Seeks Volunteers

January 08, 1998|EDWARD M. YOON

People with hypertension or high blood cholesterol may be eligible to participate in a nationwide program to test the performance of known drugs used to treat the conditions at Northridge Hospital Medical Center.

Registration for the study is open until Jan. 31, hospital officials announced.

Men and women age 55 or older who have high blood pressure and/or additional risk factors for heart attack, such as heart enlargement or diabetes, are eligible to take part in the Antihypertensive Lipis-Lowering Treatment to Preventive Heart Attack Trial (ALLHAT), a two-phase program initiated in early 1994 by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The first phase of ALLHAT, which involves 40,000 patients in more than 600 hospitals nationwide, aims to determine whether newer blood pressure-lowering drugs are more effective in reducing the risks of heart attack than conventional medications that are less expensive, said Dr. Radha J. Sarma, the center's medical director of cardiology and critical care services.

The second phase will test 20,000 of these patients to learn whether one of the newer cholesterol-lowering drugs prolongs life, she said.

Under the program, qualified patients will receive one of four commercially available medicines: diuretics ("water pills"), calcium channel blockers, alpha receptive blockers or ACE (angio-tensin converting enzyme) inhibitors.

However, Sarma said, the best way to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels is to make lifestyle changes.

"Mostly, I think Americans can cut down on their salt intake, exercise regularly and try not to be overweight," she said. "But the best advice I can give to the American population is to quit smoking."

The center, which has been involved in ALLHAT since November 1996, has about 75 patients and is looking for 25 more.

Those interested may contact the center, 18300 Roscoe Blvd., Northridge, at (818) 885-8500 Ext. 2287.

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