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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Angina drug helps with symptoms but doesn't reduce risk of further heart problems, study says

The anti-angina medication ranolazine safely eased chest pain in a large clinical trial led by Brigham and Women's Hospital researchers, but the drug did not make a significant difference in whether people with coronary artery disease had another heart attack or died, according to a report in tomorrow's Journal of the American Medical Association.

"It does not prolong life, but it provides important relief of symptoms," lead author Dr. David A. Morrow said in an interview.

One of the purposes of the randomized trial, which followed 6,560 patients for almost a year, was to answer questions about whether ranolazine could lead to heart problems, based on differences in heart rhythm noted in the electrocardiograms of people who took it.

The researchers found no difference in the number of heart arrhythmias reported in people who took ranolazine compared to people who took placebos.

In an editorial, Dr. L. Kristin Newby and Dr. Eric D. Peterson of Duke University Medical Center said beta-blockers and nitrates should still be the first drugs to turn to because ranolazine does not improve a patient's prognosis.

"Ranolazine may offer a back-up option for intensification of antianginal treatment if these first-line agents fail," they wrote.

Ranolazine, approved for marketing by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006, is sold as Ranexa by CV Therapeutics, which funded the trial.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 04:42 PM
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