Reducing the burden of heart disease is a mission BWH cardiologists aim to achieve not only in the United States, but internationally as well. From Aug. 30 to Sept. 3, BWH physicians and researchers participated in the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2014. More than 30,000 delegates attended this year’s conference in Barcelona to learn about the major breakthroughs in the treatment of heart disease.
Breakthrough studies from BWH showcased at the conference included the ODYSSEY COMBO II trial reported by Christopher Cannon, MD, BWH Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, and Harvard Clinical Research Institute. The trial found that the investigational drug, alirocumab, effectively lowered LDL cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”) levels when given once every two weeks.
The study followed 479 patients randomly assigned to receive alirocumab and daily placebo and 241 patients who were given another drug called ezetimibe plus placebo. The researchers noted that among participants who already took a maximally-tolerated statin, those assigned to alirocumab achieved a 50.6 percent change in their baseline LDL cholesterol levels at 24 weeks into the study, compared to just 20.7 percent reduction in cholesterol levels for those on ezetimibe.
“Millions of patients don’t reach low LDL target cholesterol levels despite intensive statin therapy,” said Cannon. “This study shows that alirocumab, as part of a new class of drugs, could help get cholesterol levels to new low levels. The preliminary data from the ODYSSEY LONG TERM study, also suggest that this might lead to fewer cardiovascular events.”
Another BWH study featured at the conference was the SOLID-TIMI 52 trial, presented by Michelle O’Donoghue, MD, MPH, also of the Division, which showed that blocking a certain enzyme involved in inflammation with an inhibitor, called darapladib, did not reduce the risk of heart disease death, heart attack, or need for surgery to address blood vessel blockage for chest pain compared to placebo over 2.5 years.
The double-blind, placebo-controlled study included 13,026 patients who were diagnosed within 30 days of hospitalization for acute coronary syndrome. The participants were randomly assigned to receive darapladib or placebo. The researchers found that the drug did not reduce the risk of coronary events. Moreover, side effects, such as diarrhea, were more common for patients treated with darapladib.
“Although darapladib was not effective for reducing cardiac events, we are hopeful that ongoing trials that are evaluating other novel therapeutics that target inflammation will prove to be effective in the future,” said O’Donoghue.
Also, the PARADIGM-HF study, a ground-breaking trial led by a team of international investigators including Scott Solomon, MD, BWH director of Non-invasive Cardiology, made headlines in findings demonstrating that an experimental drug known as LCZ696 was more effective than enalapril (a gold-standard cardiovascular treatment) in preventing cardiovascular death and hospitalization for patients with heart failure. Akshay Desai, MD, BWH Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, chaired the Clinical Events Committee, which was based at BWH.