Antibiotics do not prevent heart attacks; New findings from the PROVE IT-TIMI 22 clinical trial

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Christopher P. Cannon, M.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, noted that the fact that many patients do not exhibit identifiable risk factors for arteriosclerosis has prompted ongoing research to find additional markers that will help clinicians identify and then stop progression of cardiovascular disease. Specifically, chlamydia pneumoniae has been associated with the development of arteriosclerosis and heart attacks. To determine if treating this risk factor reduces coronary events, researchers in the PROVE IT – TIMI 22 trial looked at the treatment of chlamydia pneumoniae with an antibiotic or placebo.

Patients in the PROVE IT – TIMI 22 trial had been hospitalized for an acute coronary syndrome; they received standard medical and interventional treatment for the coronary event, including aspirin. In addition, to understand how treating C. pneumoniae would impact recurrent coronary events, patients were further randomized to receive antibiotics or placebo in a treatment that lasted an average of two years. Despite being treated with a bactericidal antibiotic, there was no reduction in the rate of cardiovascular events. No subgroups of patients were seen to benefit from the treatment. Researchers concluded that long- term antibiotic therapy does not benefit a patient who had been recently hospitalized for a coronary event.