Existing drug could greatly reduce heart attack risk, shows study

existing drug, heart attack risk,

Heart attacks have been the leading cause of death in the U.S. for a century.

Most treatments for heart attacks focus on breaking down blood clots after they have formed.

However, researchers at Georgia Tech have discovered a way to prevent blood clots from forming in the first place.

Their drug, which is affordable and already widely used for other purposes, has been shown to completely stop the formation of blood clots without increasing the risk of bleeding.

This breakthrough means that patients could benefit from this drug much sooner than if it were a completely new medication awaiting FDA approval.

In the future, this drug could be used to prevent second heart attacks in high-risk patients, as well as primary heart attacks, strokes, and other issues caused by blood clots.

The researchers presented their findings in a paper titled “N-Acetyl Cysteine Prevents Arterial Thrombosis in a Dose-Dependent Manner In Vitro and in Mice,” published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.

How Blood Clots Form

Most current treatments to prevent blood clots involve anti-platelet drugs, which can have serious side effects. “Doctors are stuck in a difficult position,” said David Ku, a professor at Georgia Tech.

“We can give you a drug that might help prevent another heart attack, but it could also cause a lot of bleeding.”

Blood clots are held together by a protein called von Willebrand factor (VWF), which is the target of this new treatment.

VWF is a long protein in plasma that helps blood clots form quickly. Under normal conditions, it is like a ball of yarn, but when it unravels, it becomes sticky and catches platelets, leading to clot formation.

Preventing Blood Clots

Ku and his team wanted to break down VWF proteins using a drug already on the market, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), which is usually used to treat acetaminophen overdose.

Previous researchers had tried using NAC to break down clots after they formed, but Ku’s team aimed to stop clots before they started.

“We chose NAC because it is already used in clinics and has a good safety record,” said Christopher Bresette, a postdoctoral researcher. “Using an existing drug for a new purpose can speed up the process of helping patients.”

At the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, the researchers tested blood flow through a small channel simulating a narrowing artery that could lead to a heart attack or stroke. NAC completely prevented clot formation.

They then tested NAC in mice and found similar results. Even better, NAC’s benefits lasted six hours after it left the bloodstream, keeping arteries clear for longer.

The researchers believe that NAC will be especially useful for patients who have already had a heart attack and are at risk of having another one soon after. An IV injection of NAC could lower this immediate risk. In the future, NAC could be given as a daily pill to reduce the overall risk of heart attacks.

The potential uses of NAC are vast, from stopping embolisms to other blockages. The researchers hope to conduct clinical trials and receive FDA approval so NAC can help patients as soon as possible.

If you care about heart disease, please read studies that herbal supplements could harm your heart rhythm, and how eating eggs can help reduce heart disease risk.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies that apple juice could benefit your heart health, and results showing yogurt may help lower the death risks in heart disease.