Open Accessibility Menu

Cardiology Trial May Lower the Risk of Heart Diseases

Roger, 76, suffered a heart attack, then a stroke, a few years ago.

Now, he is participating in the Cardiovascular Inflammation Reduction Trial (CIRT), hoping that an anti-inflammatory drug will reduce his risks of having future heart problems.

“I have a history of heart problems and lost my mother to a heart attack,” Roger remarks. “This study could potentially have an impact on future generations so that they don’t suffer the same tragic outcomes.”

Cardiologist William Kopfler, MD, of North Oaks Cardiology Clinic is leading local efforts for CIRT, a trial conducted by physicians at special sites across the U.S. and Canada. He considers Roger the sort of patient who could reap benefits from the study, and would like to see more candidates taking part.

“I’m very excited to participate in this study that has the potential to significantly change how we treat heart disease,” shares Dr. Kopfler. “This study may be a game changer.”

Those who have suffered prior heart attacks or have had major blockages in more than one coronary artery are at risk of having future heart attacks – even if their physicians have them on aggressive treatment plans. In part, the increased risk is related to high levels of inflammation in the blood vessels.

Dr. Kopfler explains that the goal of the study is to see if reducing inflammation can lower the risk of having a future heart attack, stroke or dying from the disease.

“Inflammation plays a major role in heart attack and stroke,” Dr. Kopfler notes. “While inflammation is as important as cholesterol and high blood pressure, no clinical trial has tested whether reducing inflammation can reduce rates of these life-threatening disorders.”

CIRT will test whether Low-Dose Methotrexate (LDM) can reduce the rates of recurrent cardiovascular events among patients with a prior heart attack, who also have diabetes or metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors linked to high blood pressure and abdominal obesity.

Because the trial is “randomized,” Roger doesn’t know if the medication he is taking is an active drug or a placebo. But, he’s willing to take part because of the potential benefits.

Roger qualified for CIRT due to his health problems and following a screening process conducted by Dr. Kopfler’s office. During the trial’s 5-year period, he will continue to get all of the usual medical care his cardiologist and internist provide. Additionally, he will receive special calendar packs that contain the study medications. He will be closely monitored by the study team to help ensure his safety and to identify any clinical events that may occur. At a minimum, Roger will see the study team for a brief office visit every 4 months for the duration of the trial. There is no cost to him or other participants.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute fund CIRT. All the participating physicians have been screened, understand the trial design and have been trained in all trial procedures.

Anyone meeting the qualifications and interested in participating in CIRT should talk to their primary care provider or contact the national CIRT Coordinating Center toll-free at (855) 437-9330. Interested parties also may contact Dr. Kopfler through North Oaks Cardiology Clinic at (985) 230-7350.