Heart disease is the leading cause of death around the world. In the US, half of all male deaths are caused by heart disease.

The last few decades have seen the development of powerful new drugs to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease: statins control cholesterol and triglycerides; new blood thinners and blood pressure medications, including beta blockers, reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Although these medications lower the risk of a cardiovascular event, the risk remains stubbornly high.

A large study, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that a new drug may prove to be an important step forward in the search to control and prevent heart disease. This new drug, Vascepa, is derived from fish oil. Since fish oil — and omega-3 fatty acids, in general — are already known to be good for the heart, it is not surprising that this highly purified and concentrated omega-3 fatty acid is beneficial for the heart. What was surprising, however, was the extent of benefit provided, which surpassed all expectations.

An initial study of Vascepa’s effectiveness was conducted with approximately 10,000 high-risk patients who were already taking heart medications. The results of the study showed that Vascepa reduced the occurrence of first, second, and subsequent heart attacks, as well as strokes and other cardiovascular problems, by nearly one-third.

The study’s lead investigator, Dr. Deepak Bhatt, stated, “With this drug, we are not only preventing that first heart attack, but potentially the second stroke and maybe that third fatal event. […] Prevention of such subsequent cardiovascular events could improve patient outcomes and quality of life and may lower the total cost burden of medical care.”

Results of this study, presented at the American College of Cardiology scientific meeting in New Orleans, showed that Vascepa cut the rate of a first cardiovascular event by 25%, a second cardiovascular event by 32%, and further cardiovascular events by 48%, compared to a control group.

It is important to note that most participants were already taking statins and other heart medications to control their blood pressure or prevent blood clots. This suggests that Vascepa provides an important new addition to the arsenal of weapons that can be used to fight heart disease.

The pace of medical innovation today continues to accelerate, and it is encouraging that fundamental breakthroughs are still being made to fight cardiovascular disease.

Beacon of LIFE, in Oceanport, NJ, is a government-approved PACE program created to provide seniors, their family, caregivers and professional health care providers the flexibility to meet their health care needs while continuing to live in their community.

Beacon of LIFE maintains an interdisciplinary team of professionals who give each client the coordinated care they need. Our staff specialize in working with older people, and work with each client and their family to develop the most effective plan of care.

We provide a variety of services, including primary care, hospital care, medical specialty services, prescription drugs, nursing home care, emergency services, home care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, adult day care, recreational therapy, meals, dentistry, nutritional counseling, social services, laboratory / X-ray services, social work counseling, and transportation.

Our care and services allow people who would otherwise need to live in a nursing home to live where they want — in their own communities, in their own homes.

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