This popular gout drug may help treat heart disease

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A recent study from the University of California, Los Angeles, and elsewhere found that a medicine long used to treat gout may provide new ways to reduce heart risks beyond the usual medicines to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

The anti-inflammatory gout drug is called colchicine and sold as Colcrys, Mitigare, and in generic form.

In addition, the team found several new drugs showed early promise for interfering with heart-harmful genes without modifying the genes themselves.

The research was presented at the 2019 AHA Conference. One author is Dr. Karol Watson.

In the study, the gout drug was tested in 4,745 people who recently had a heart attack.

The researchers found that after about two years, colchicine users had a 23% lower risk of suffering a new heart attack, heart-related death, stroke, cardiac arrest or urgent need for an artery-opening procedure.

The benefit came mostly from preventing strokes and artery-opening procedures, and some heart doctors would rather have seen more differences in heart attacks and deaths.

In addition, the team found several new drugs attack the root cause of heart disease by altering DNA without tampering with genes.

The medicines work by silencing or blocking messages that genes give to cells to make proteins that can do harm, such as allowing cholesterol to accumulate.

One drug is inclisiran. The team tested in 1,561 people with heart disease from clogged arteries who still had high LDL (bad cholesterol).

They were given a shot of inclisiran or a dummy drug when they joined the study, three months later and then every six months.

The researchers found that the drug lowered LDL by 56% without serious side effects.

Two other RNA interference drugs aim at a different target—triglycerides, another fat in the blood that’s elevated in one-quarter of Americans.

Treatments include very low-fat diets, weight loss, fish oil, and drugs, but doctors say more and better therapies are needed.

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