Gout drug may help prevent repeat heart attacks

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A drug long used to treat a painful form of arthritis called gout may also benefit heart attack survivors, according to a new study.

Derived from the autumn crocus, colchicine (Colcrys, Mitigare) helps to ease the joint inflammation and pain that characterize gout. Because mounting evidence suggests that inflammation plays a role in heart disease, researchers have tested various anti-inflammatory drugs in heart patients. The latest study, published online Nov. 16, 2019, by The New England Journal of Medicine, tested colchicine against a placebo in 4,745 people who had experienced a heart attack within the previous month. All the participants also took standard drugs to treat heart disease, including statins, aspirin, and other clot-preventing drugs.

After a median follow-up of nearly two years, those in the colchicine group were less likely to need an urgent hospitalization for a procedure to restore blood flow to the heart. However, more evidence is needed before the drug is used routinely in heart attack survivors, according to an editorial accompanying the study. Several additional studies are currently under way.

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