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Published on August 25, 2014

MU Clinical Trial Goal: Determine If Common Drug Can Reduce Heart Attacks, Strokes

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Chokkalingam Siva, M.D., M.S., associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Missouri School of Medicine and director of the school’s rheumatology fellowship program, is leading a clinical trial to determine whether a common anti-inflammatory drug can reduce heart attacks, strokes and deaths due to cardiovascular disease.

The Cardiovascular Inflammation Reduction Trial (CIRT) is a randomized study sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health. The purpose of the study is to determine whether treatment with a low dose of methotrexate ― an inexpensive generic drug commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis ― will reduce rates of cardiovascular events among adults who have had a heart attack within the past five years and also have either type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of traits that include a large waistline, high blood pressure, high levels of triglycerides, high blood sugar and low HDL, also known as good cholesterol.

“Each year, more than two million people in the United States have heart attacks and strokes,” Siva said. “And many die from either the disease itself or complications. We know from previous research that inflammation, along with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, plays a major role in the instances of heart attacks and strokes. If this generic drug ― which is already on the market at low cost ― proves effective, it has the potential to affect many people by saving lives and reducing disease.”

The MU School of Medicine is one of approximately 350 sites across the U.S. and Canada enrolling patients in CIRT. Participants will be randomly assigned to receive standard care plus a placebo or standard care plus low-dose methotrexate. All participants also will take folic acid, a vitamin which is routinely given with methotrexate.

“Men and women who have had a heart attack or have major blockages in more than one coronary artery, and also have either type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome are eligible to be screened for participation in this clinical trial,” Siva said.

For more information on this clinical trial or to set up an appointment to be screened for participation in the study, please contact the MU Clinical Research Center at (573) 882-4894.