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People with clogged arteries in their hearts (coronary artery disease) or legs (peripheral artery disease) face a high risk of having a heart attack or stroke, particularly if they also have diabetes. For such people, a combination of clot-preventing drugs lowers the risk of those dangerous outcomes, according to a study published online March 28 by the journal Circulation.
The study included just over 18,300 people with coronary or peripheral artery disease; about 38% also had diabetes. They all took low-dose aspirin daily, but half also took 2.5 milligrams of rivaroxaban (Xarelto) twice daily while the others took a placebo. Like aspirin, rivaroxaban helps discourage blood clots, but through a different mechanism.
The two-drug combination reduced the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death from cardiovascular disease compared with aspirin alone. Among people with diabetes, the therapy lowered the death rate three times as much as in those without diabetes during the three-year study. However, people with a history of bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract or elsewhere are not good candidates for the treatment.
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