FILE - This Oct. 25, 2011 file photo shows the logo of Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis AG on one of their buildings in Basel, Switzerland. According to results published Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, for the first time, a drug has helped prevent heart attacks by curbing inflammation, a new and very different approach than lowering cholesterol, which has been the main focus for decades. Canakinumab's maker, Novartis, sponsored the study. (Georgios Kefalas/Keystone via AP, File)

A first: Drug lowers heart risks by curbing inflammation

August 27, 2017 - 5:00 am

For the first time, a drug has helped prevent heart attacks by curbing inflammation, a new and very different approach than lowering cholesterol.

Many heart attacks occur in people who have normal cholesterol but high inflammation, which can lead to clogged arteries. A study tested the Novartis drug canakinumab (can-uh-KIN-yoo-mab) in heart attack survivors at risk of another one because of high inflammation.

A middle dose, given as a shot every three months, cut the risk of a repeat heart attack, a stroke or a heart-related death by 15 percent over four years.

Results were published Sunday by the New England Journal of Medicine and Lancet, and presented at a heart conference in Barcelona, Spain.

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