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Updated 11:00 AM November 1, 2004




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Heart trouble? Let the Fab Four "Help"

Listen—do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell? The Fab Four are back, and they're heading straight for the hearts of millions.

No, it's not the Beatles. This Fab Four is a combination of four kinds of medicines that can protect the heart—and maybe save the life—of almost anyone who has ever had a heart attack or chest pain.

Although each one of them is great as a solo artist, the Fab Four are even better in concert as a group, say U-M doctors. They "Come Together" to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, slow the heartbeat and keep blood flowing.

In fact, the Fab Four offer just the kind of "Help!" that millions of people with heart trouble and high heart disease risk could use. But many of those who could benefit from this drug combo haven't heard the news.

That's why a Cardiovascular Center leader is working to spread the word about the Fab Four—aspirin, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors and cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Dr. Kim Eagle hopes that anyone old enough to remember the Beatles will pay attention to the news because people in their 40s, 50s and 60s have a serious and growing risk of a first heart attack, or a first attack of a kind of chest pain called unstable angina, which is a warning sign for heart problems.

Eagle and his colleagues recently published a study showing that heart attack and unstable angina patients who took all the Fab Four drugs after they got home from the hospital were much less likely to die than people who didn't take any of the four.

"Our estimates are that it could be as much as a 90 percent reduction in their risk of having another event, such as another heart attack or sudden cardiac death," says Eagle, clinical director of the Cardiovascular Center. "If we look at the potential benefit of these classes of medications, we truly see a multiplied effect."

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