Angina study may aid heart patients

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The Independent Online
SCIENTISTS are to investigate how chest pain may save the lives of heart attack victims, writes Jeremy Laurance.

In the largest research study of angina (chest pain), 5,000 patients are to be recruited to investigate the effect of a new drug that mimics the chemical effect of pain on the heart.

The study, co-ordinated by the University of Glasgow, will include up to 100 hospital cardiology units and is expected to take three years. Patients will receive treatment for an average of 21 months.

The heart is known to initiate a protective response when the blood supply to it is restricted and not enough oxygen is reaching the muscle, causing angina.

Known as pre-conditioning, this natural response reduces the damage caused by further or more serious bouts of oxygen deprivation.

Scientists believe that it may explain why heart attack patients with a history of angina suffer less tissue damage and have a better chance of recovery than patients with no history of angina.

In the study, Nicorandil, the first of a new class of anti-angina drugs introduced to the United Kingdom four years ago, will be given to half the patients, in addition to their usual drug treatment for angina.