Edinburgh Imaging

09 Jan 18. Prof David Newby receives funding for new trial

The British Heart Foundation has granted Professor of Cardiology, David Newby, and his team here, £630,000 to carry out a study to determine the best course of treatment after a heart attack.

The trial being funded by the British Heart Foundation will involve almost 20,000 patients in hospitals across Scotland, which will determine which treatments are best for patients to receive after having experienced a heart attack. The aim is to change the way heart attack patients are treated, and preventing them from having to return to hospital in the future. 

It is hoped that by the end of the study, scientists will be able to tell how long people should be prescribed blood-thinning medicines after a heart attack. 

In Scotland alone there are over 25,000 heart attack related visits to hospitals a year, and the BHF state every 20 minutes someone in Scotland is in hospital due to a heart attack.

Life after a heart attack can be very fragile as there are high risks of having another one in just weeks and months to come. Therefore, doctors have tried to prevent this by prescribing two types of blood-thinning drugs, also known as anti-platelet medicines. Yet unfortunately, these treatments have side effects such as increasing the danger of bleeding.

Doctors have disagreed over how long patients should be prescribed this drug due to not being able to agree on the correct balance of benefits versus dangers towards their patients.

Given this dispute, Professor Newby and his team at the BHF's Centre of Research Excellence, will carry out clinical trials involving almost 20,000 heart attack patients across Scotland. His patients will be given blood-thinning medications to try over different periods of time. Half of the participants will be prescribed the blood-thinning medications for 12 months, and the other half of the participants will be prescribed the medication for 3 months. The team will track how the participants are getting on over a 15 month period, and they will be monitoring this by using electronic health records.

Their findings should reveal the optimum length of time that heart attack patients should be prescribed these medications. 

We really need to know how long to give these drugs as it has implications for health benefits, hazards of side-effects and overall cost of the treatment.  We are delighted that all Cardiologists across Scotland have come together to perform this trial and look forward to working in partnership with our patients to address this simple but critical question.

Professor David Newby