The newspaper of Imperial College London
Reporter
 Issue 122, 23 October 2002
Contents
Merger talks forge ahead«
Drug could cut heart attacks and strokes by a third«
China and Europe in space pre-nuptials…«
Goldsmiths' Wing reopens«
Faculty of physical sciences inauguration«
Graduate School of Engineering and Physical Sciences«
Facing new challenges«
Silwood safe, and healthy«
Soul boy makes the money market sing«
In Brief«
Media spotlight«
What's on«

Drug could cut heart attacks and strokes by a third

IMPERIAL scientists studying different blood pressure treatments and the effects of additional cholesterol lowering, have stopped part of their European trial earlier than expected because results collected already show a significant benefit to patients on one of its treatments.

Professor Peter Server
Professor Peter Server
It found that among 10,297 patients with hypertension and cholesterol levels lower than currently recommended for treatment, those given the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin suffered significantly fewer heart attacks and strokes compared to those receiving the placebo treatment.

The International Steering Committee of the independent Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial (ASCOT) have stopped the relevant part of the trial and informed fellow investigators, their patients and the regulatory authorities about the newly emerged results.

The rest of the trial, which compares different blood pressure treatment strategies, will continue unchanged.

"The trial shows that patients with high blood pressure but low cholesterol benefit clearly from tak ing a statin. It is too early to quantify the precise size of the effect, but we expect to see a reduction in heart attacks of about one third among those taking a statin," say ASCOT study co-chairmen Professor Peter Sever, faculty of medicine, and Björn Dahlöf from the Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Östra, Sweden.

"However the ASCOT trial still continues and we wish to make it clear to all our patients that this new information does not mean they should stop the tablets they are taking. It is vital that all patients on the trial carry on with their treatment regimens," they add.

Members of ASCOT's Data Safety Monitoring Board, who work independently of the trial investigators and are the only researchers permitted to look at the results of the five-year old trial while it is ongoing, reported their findings to the ASCOT International Steering Committee on 2 September 2002.

They described a highly significant reduction in the number of heart attacks and a significant reduction in strokes experienced by those patients receiving atorvastatin compared to placebo.

As the size of the benefit exceeded the stopping rules for this part of the trial, the Data Safety Monitoring Board's recommendations to close this section of the study were accepted by the ASCOT Steering Committee. This part of the study was formally closed on 1 October 2002 but data collection relating to it is expected to continue until the end of December 2002.

 
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