In a recent study, researchers found a powerful antioxidant could help reduce the risk of second stroke and heart attack.
Doctors have long known that in the months after a heart attack or stroke, patients are more likely to have another attack or stroke.
The research explains what happens inside blood vessels to increase risk—and suggests a new way to treat it.
The team found heart attacks in mice caused inflammatory cells and platelets to more easily stick to the inner lining of arteries throughout the body—and particularly where there was already plaque.
As a result, these sticky cells and platelets caused plaque to become unstable and contribute to blood clots that led to another heart attack or stroke.
But the study found treating mice that had experienced a heart attack or stroke with the powerful antioxidant apocynin cut plaque buildup in half and lowered inflammation to pre-attack levels.
The researchers discovered the sticky cells and platelets by using unique forms of ultrasound imaging they developed to view molecules on the lining of blood vessels.
This research could help explain why the recent Canakinumab Anti-inflammatory Thrombosis Outcomes Study, also known as the CANTOS clinical trial.
It found an anti-inflammatory drug already approved to treat juvenile arthritis also reduced the risk of a second heart attack in trial participants by 15 percent.
The researchers are further studying how the relative stickiness of remote arteries affects the risks for additional heart attacks and strokes and are also evaluating new therapies beyond antioxidants.
The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
The paper’s corresponding author is Jonathan R. Lindner, M.D. at the OHSU School of Medicine.
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