New use for anti-clotting agent to be trialled in Leeds

Friday 18th March 2016

A new technique to improve the outcome of patients suffering a heart attack is being trialled at the NIHR Leeds Clinical Research Facility.

The study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Medical Research Council, will assess whether injecting a small amount of an anti-clotting agent directly into the coronary artery during treatment for the heart attack will reduce damage to the heart.

Patients suffering a type of heart attack called ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) will be recruited to the trial. A STEMI is the most serious type of heart attack, where there is a long interruption to the blood supply. This is caused by a total blockage of the coronary artery, which can cause extensive damage to a large area of the heart.

These types of heart attack are treated by getting rid of the blockage, usually by inserting a stent to open up the artery. However, clots in the smaller blood vessels in the heart contribute to the damage caused to the heart’s muscles.

The study, led by the University of Glasgow, will assess whether injecting small doses of a drug called alteplase will reduce these blockages in the smaller blood vessels and improve the outcome for patients. Seven centres across the UK are involved in the study, which will recruit around 600 patients in total.

Professor John Greenwood, Cardiovascular speciality clinical lead for NIHR Leeds CRF, said:

“Alteplase is a clot-dissolving drug that is no longer in routine clinical use for heart attacks, but we want to see if using it in this new way can have a beneficial effect for patients. The anti-clotting effect of alteplase will last for about 40 minutes, which will cover the crucial period while the stent is being implanted and the clot extracted.”

Recruitment has now started to the three-year trial, which will see patients allocated either a 10mg or 20 mg dose of alteplase or a placebo.