In a recent trial, the low-molecular-weight heparin enoxaparin significantly reduced the risk of a second heart attack or death in patients who have had an acute heart attack. The randomized, double-blind, double-dummy trial compared the 2 anticoagulants in more than 20,000 patients in 48 countries. Their primary treatment for heart attack was to use unfractionated heparin to reduce blood clots; the newer therapy employed enoxaparin for the duration of the patient's hospital stay. The study results showed that enoxaparin reduced the risk of death or recurrent nonfatal heart attack by 17%, compared with unfractionated heparin. By the end of 1 month, enoxaparin reduced that risk by 33%. The mortality rate was 7.5% for patients receiving unfractionated heparin, compared with 6.9% for patients receiving enoxaparin. The study authors noted, however, that patients taking enoxaparin had a small but significant increase in the risk of serious bleeding episodes. The results were published in the April 6, 2006, edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.