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Drug Duo Beneficial After Heart Attacks

July 22, 2002|SHARI ROAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Combining aspirin with coumarin after a heart attack appears to work better than either medicine taken alone in preventing future cardiac troubles, according to two studies published last week.

In Europe, it's common practice to give heart patients both drugs, said Dr. Freek W.A. Verheugt, director of cardiology at the Heartcenter of University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

Many U.S. doctors prefer one or the other because the risk of bleeding increases when aspirin and coumarin (trade name Coumadin) are taken together. Verheugt was a researcher in both studies.

However, the studies showed a clear benefit to taking both drugs without an excessive risk of bleeding.

In a study of 308 heart attack patients, the chance of arteries reclosing was reduced by 45% in patients who received both drugs compared with patients who took only aspirin. Recurrent heart attacks often happen because the arteries re-occlude. That study was published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Assn.

In the other study--of 999 people who had had a heart attack--patients taking coumarin alone or coumarin and aspirin together were less likely to have a heart attack or stroke compared with people on aspirin alone.

That study was published in the Lancet.

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