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An Anti inflammatory drug Canakinumab significantly reduces heart attack risks

An Anti inflammatory drug Canakinumab significantly reduces heart attack risks

Canakinumab is a human monoclonal antibody used for rheumatoid arthritis treatment and is developed by Novartis, a Swiss multinational pharmaceutical company. It has recently been shown to reduce heart attack risk as per a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine [1].




Around 17.7 million people died in the year 2015 of cardiovascular diseases. An attack occurs when the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked mainly because a blood clot blocks the blood flow to the heart. Tissues without oxygen (which is to be supplied by blood) die. Treatment may require a bypass surgery to remove the clot. about 1.5 million cases of heart attacks are reported in the USA alone [2]. The risk factors are the lifestyle (eating habits, sleeping habits and lack of exercise) or genetic factors or presence of another disease like diabetes etc. The research world keeps looking for ways to minimize these risk. One domain of such research revolves around what is known as the Inflammatory hypothesis.


Heart attack Risk factors



This hypothesis asserts that inflammation is a central contributor to Atherothrombosis a disease in which fats, cholesterol, and other substances build up in and on the artery walls. And that the reduction in inflammation without affecting lipid levels may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. This particular study attempts to test this hypothesis.


The landscape of this study is pretty broad. It comprises of roughly 10,000 people across 40 countries. These were people who had a history of heart attack and were given the anti-inflammatory drug, Canakinumab once every three months. The drug was administered subcutaneously into three groups of 50 mg, 150 mg, and 300 mg dosages. Placebo was also given to each group and they were monitored for a period of about 4 years.


Results, at 48 months showed that a dose of 150 mg every 3 months significantly reduces the risks of nonfatal myocardial infarction, nonfatal stroke, or cardiovascular death. According to a report in the BBC, the medical community considers the result as modest and compelling [3]. But further investigations exploring the biological mechanisms behind these results as well as to confirm the reproducibility of these results are required.


The aim of this study in any way is not to discourage the other heart attack risk reducing factors like exercise and healthy diet but simply to consider the inclusion of the anti-inflammatory drug in the prescript along with those other drugs given to heart patients like cholesterol-lowering statins and blood-thinning drugs.




1] Paul M Ridker, M.D., Brendan M. Everett, M.D., Tom Thuren, M.D., Jean G. MacFadyen, B.A., William H. Chang, Ph.D., Christie Ballantyne, M.D., Francisco Fonseca, M.D., Jose Nicolau, M.D., Wolfgang Koenig, M.D., Stefan D. Anker, M.D., John J.P. Kastelein, M.D., Jan H. Cornel, M.D., Prem Pais, M.D., Daniel Pella, M.D., Jacques Genest, M.D., Renata Cifkova, M.D., Alberto Lorenzatti, M.D., Tamas Forster, M.D., Zhanna Kobalava, M.D., Luminita Vida-Simiti, M.D., Marcus Flather, M.D., Hiroaki Shimokawa, M.D., Hisao Ogawa, M.D., Mikael Dellborg, M.D., Paulo R.F. Rossi, M.D., Roland P.T. Troquay, M.D., Peter Libby, M.D., and Robert J. Glynn Antiinflammatory Therapy with Canakinumab for Atherosclerotic Disease The New England Journal of Medicine 27 August 2017





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