Researchers find “simple” methods to prevent heart attacks and stroke worldwide

Posted by ap507 at Apr 04, 2016 10:54 AM |
University of Leicester researchers involved in international study

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 1 April 2016

Simple pharmacological solutions to prevent heart attacks and stroke worldwide have been proven effective by an international team involving researchers from the University of Leicester.

The research team led by the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences studied more than 12,000 patients from 21 countries to evaluate drugs that can prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD leads to 18 million deaths and about 50 million heart attacks and strokes globally every year.

The research was hosted in the UK by the University of Leicester and the NIHR Leicester Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit, based at Glenfield Hospital, with Dr William Toff and Professor Kamlesh Khunti serving as the UK National Leads. 

Professor Khunti, Co-Director of the Leicester Diabetes Centre and Director of NIHR CLAHRC East Midlands, commented: “This is a landmark pragmatic study which recruited patients from general practice. The results show that we can use simple methods to identify people who would benefit in terms of primary prevention of cardiovascular disease using commonly available drugs such as statins and antihypertensives.”

Dr Toff, Senior Lecturer in Cardiology, added: “The findings from this landmark trial could have a significant impact on clinical practice and the approach to preventing cardiovascular disease around the world.”

The treatments examined included two established forms of therapy, namely statins, a group of cholesterol-lowering drugs, and antihypertensives, a class of drugs used to treat high blood pressure. In addition, a combination of statins and antihypertensives was assessed.

Three reports on the studies were published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. Under the name of HOPE-3, or Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation-3, the studies involved 228 centres looking at the effects of the three treatment options in people without clinical heart disease but at intermediate risk of developing it.

Statins were found to significantly and safely reduce CVD events by 25 per cent in patients at intermediate risk but without evident CVD. Antihypertensives did not reduce major CVD events overall in the population studied but they did reduce such events in the group of people with hypertension at entry to the study. When combined, statins and antihypertensives reduced CVD events by 30 per cent—with a 40% benefit in those with hypertension, suggesting that patients with hypertension should not only lower their BP but also consider taking a statin.

The HOPE-3 research reports were led by Dr Salim Yusuf and Dr Eva Lonn, both professors of medicine at McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, and Jackie Bosch, an associate professor of the University’s School of Rehabilitation Science.

“The HOPE-3 trial brings clarity in the management of blood pressure and cholesterol, two of the most common cardiovascular risk factors,” said Lonn. “Primary prevention can be greatly simplified and made available to most intermediate-risk people worldwide.”

Bosch added: “Treatment with a statin was remarkably safe and beneficial in our study, regardless of cholesterol or blood pressure levels, age, gender or ethnicity. We are incredibly encouraged by the study’s results.”

The findings from HOPE-3 will have a major influence on primary care in developed nations, where statins and antihypertensives are inexpensive, Yusuf added.  While still relatively inexpensive in developing nations, the drugs are less affordable in relation to income. Still, Yusuf said the study’s results hold promise everywhere as the price of these drugs start to come down.

“These simple methods can be used practically everywhere in the world, and the drugs will become even cheaper as more and more systems and people adopt these therapies,” he said.

Yusuf, Lonn and Bosch are presenting the HOPE-3 trials at the 2016 American College of Cardiology (ACC) Scientific Session and Expo in Chicago this weekend.

The HOPE-3 study is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and AstraZeneca.

For more information, contact:

Veronica McGuire, Media co-ordinator, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University on

Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Professor of Primary Care Diabetes & Vascular Medicine, Diabetes Research Centre, University of Leicester on

Dr William Toff, Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Leicester on


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