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February 24, 2003

Debbie Neufert
Media Relations, LHSC
London Health Sciences Centre
519-685-8500, ext. 74772

Michele Martin
Lawson Health Research Institute
(519) 646-6100, ext. 64680, Pager #10699

Study shows blood pressure drug significantly reduces heart failure in patients at high risk

(LONDON, Ontario) - Results of an international study, involving patients from southwestern Ontario, show that a common drug used to treat high blood pressure can prevent heart failure in high risk cardiovascular patients. The study, to be published in the March 11 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, is available on-line today at http://circ.ahajournals.org/rapidaccess.shtml.

The study looked at the drug ramipril, trade-named Altace, which is a high blood pressure medication known as an ACE inhibitor. Researchers found that ramipril reduced the risk of heart failure by 23 per cent in patients with cardiovascular disease who still had normal heart pumping function and no previous heart failure. Heart failure is the inability of a damaged heart to pump enough blood through the body.

The study was led by Dr. Malcolm Arnold, cardiologist at London Health Sciences Centre, and program leader, Circulation, with the Lawson Health Research Institute. Arnold is also a professor of medicine and physiology & pharmacology at The University of Western Ontario.

Arnold says, "This trial is different from previous clinical trials to prevent heart failure as it looked at ramipril's use in a different population, namely patients over age 55, who had significant evidence for atherosclerosis, such as coronary artery disease, stroke, or diabetes with other risk factors, all of which would put them at an increased risk of heart failure". Arnold adds, "The study shows the benefits of ramipril can now be extended to a wider population than was previously known."

Arnold also says, "The drug not only reduced the risk of heart failure, it reduced the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions. After four to five years of follow-up we concluded the trial early because the drug was shown to be of even greater benefit to these patients than predicted."

The trial was part of the larger Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation (HOPE) study. It was conducted in the Americas and Europe and followed more than 9,200 high-risk cardiovascular patients. The majority of the research was conducted in Canada, with Southwestern Ontario contributing 477 patients, 231 of whom were studied at London Health Sciences Centre