VIENNA — New research has shown that a common blood-pressure pill could save hundreds of thousands of heart patients from dying of coronary disease or suffering a heart attack over a four-year period, doctors said Sunday.
Dr. Kim Fox of the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, the study's director, described the research as a milestone in the treatment of heart disease because it proved for the first time that a so-called ACE inhibitor drug can have lifesaving benefits even in younger coronary patients and those considered to be at low risk of complications.
ACE inhibitors already are recommended for coronary patients over 55, those with heart failure and others at high risk of dying from complications, such as people with diabetes or high blood pressure.
The study was presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in Vienna.
The four-year study was conducted on 12,218 adults with coronary heart disease from 24 European countries. It found that patients who added one type of ACE inhibitor, Perindopril, to their daily medication had a 20% lower risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke or of having a survivable heart attack than those who did not take the extra pill.
Their risk of being admitted to the hospital with heart failure was 39% lower.
Perindopril is known as Aceon in the United States and as Coversyl in Europe. Other ACE inhibitors include Altace, Accupril, Monopril and Zestril.
The pill has few serious side effects. The most common and annoying is a persistent cough, which occurred in about 4% of patients in the study.