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HeartCare cardiologist Dr Mark Nidorf discusses the trial with 7 News Perth

A cost-effective and readily-available medicine that's long been used to treat gout could also be used to prevent cardiovascular events in patients with stable coronary disease - a disease which develops when plaque builds up in the arteries, sometimes leading to a complete blockage and, in turn, a heart attack.

An initial pilot study led by GenesisCare's HeartCare cardiologists in Perth found that the medicine called colchicine, which can prevent inflammation, could reduce the risk of heart attack in some patients by up to 50%.

Now, the effects of colchicine for secondary prevention in people with stable coronary disease is being re-tested in what is the largest study of its kind with almost 1,900 patients recruited across Western Australia and a similar number in the Netherlands.

Historically, only two types of medications have been proven to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes: aspirin for anti-clotting, and statins to help lower cholesterol levels in blood. Despite their benefits, patients can continue to be at risk of cardiovascular events such as a heart attack and stroke, possibly because these treatments fail to target some of the processes that lead to growth and instability of cholesterol plaques within in the arteries.

In an interview this week, cardiologist Dr Mark Nidorf told 7 News Perth: "What we've been lacking until now is a drug that reduces the inflammatory process that goes on inside the arterial wall."

With heart disease and stroke the leading causes of death and disability worldwide, the trial has the potential to have a profound global impact. Repurposing the already-available drug also means it could come to market in a relatively short timeframe if the benefits seen in the pilot trial can be confirmed.

Professor Peter Thompson, who together with Dr Nidorf, won the National Health and Medical Research Council's prestigious Marshall and Warren award in 2015 for their highly innovative and potentially transformative project, added: "It will be a very exciting development. It will mean that patients around the world, we hope, will be able to access a drug that's quite effective for not much cost."

The study will continue over the next few years and it is hoped that the results will be available by the end of 2019. Dr Nidorf thanked all patients, HeartCare staff involved in the trial as well as the pharmaceutical provider for their generous ongoing support of the trial.

To watch the 7 News Perth story, visit: https://thewest.com.au/news/7-news-perth/new-wa-trial-aims-to-reduce-heart-attack-and-stroke-bc-5346355892001

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