Anti-inflammatory Colchicine Exhibits Major Benefits After a Heart Attack

Jean-Claude Tardif, M.D., of the Montreal Heart Institute in Canada presented a paper at the Scientific Session of the American Heart Association last week demonstrating the benefits of using colchicine to reduce inflammation after patients have a heart attack.  In a study called COLCOT, performed at 167 different health centers in multiple countries, almost 5000 patients were double-blinded and either given 0.5 mg of colchicine a day or a placebo.

All of these patients received standard post heart attack cardiac care including cholesterol lowering medicine, anti-platelet agents and blood pressure medicines in addition to the study drugs.  The patients were on average 60 years old, 80 % were overweight men with 93% having undergone angioplasty as a treatment of their cardiac disease.  Ninety-nine percent were taking aspirin, 98% were taking an additional anti-platelet agent, 99% were on a statin to control cholesterol and 89% on a beta-blocker.

The doctors conducting the study recognized that acute heart attack patients are demonstrating a high degree of inflammation at that time and are at increased risk for another heart attack, stroke or acute rehospitalization for an ischemic event.  The addition of colchicine reduced this risk by 34% when used with all the currently recommended post heart attack medications.  A new study, COLCOT 2, is being planned to see the effect of colchicine in preventing coronary ischemic events in diabetics who are at increased risk.

Colchicine is an anti-inflammatory drug originally used to treat gout and inflammation of the sack around the heart known as pericarditis.  It originally was not patented and sold for pennies.  The drug was purchased by a Wall Street investment firm, patented, and now a 30-day supply sells for more than $250.

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