Tag Archives: finds

Suicide is at record level among students at UK universities, study finds

A growing number of undergraduates are reporting mental health problems, according to a report that shows a record number of students have killed themselves in recent years.

The scale of the mental health crisis at UK universities is revealed in a study by the IPPR thinktank. It shows that the number of students who disclosed a mental health problem in their first year rose fivefold to reach 15,395 in a decade.

Analysts also found that a record 134 students killed themselves in 2015. In the same year a record number of students with mental health problems dropped out of university.

Experts put the rise down to growing pressure on students who leave university with huge debt, as well as increased awareness – meaning more people are reporting problems.

Mark Salter, a spokesman for the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said it was “deeply alarming” that student suicide numbers had nearly doubled in the past decade.

“We know that the government needs to do much more to stop people reaching the level of desperation where they take their own lives. Suicide is preventable … without proper resourcing and funding, we will not reduce suicide in England,” he said.

Craig Thorley, an IPPR senior research fellow, said young people’s studies risked being disrupted.

“Universities must be ready to support these students, including, where appropriate, through referral into specialist care. But the extent of support is currently too varied, and many university services are overwhelmed by the level of demand,” he said.

The report called for universities to ensure that their counselling services had close links with local GPs and mental health services.

Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, said the findings were “shocking” and should act as a “massive wake-up call to universities to take this area much more seriously”.

He said: “Some vice-chancellors still think [mental health care] is not the business of universities and it’s just about development of the mind, but developing minds means nothing unless you also help people learn how to become settled down and ready to learn.”

The Labour MP Luciana Berger said the research uncovered worrying levels of mental ill-health: “The wellbeing of students cannot be an afterthought. The government and universities must take on board the recommendations and create the conditions in which our next generation can get help and flourish.”

New analysis found female first-year students were significantly more likely than their male counterparts to disclose a mental health condition in 2015-16, whereas four years previously both were equally likely.

Ruth Caleb, wellbeing consultant at Brunel University, said the rise could be down to the fact that more students now came to university already anxious and worried about the degree they would get, as well as the debt they would be saddled with as their working lives began.

“The rise is due to a combination of more awareness of mental health issues, a lowering of the taboo previously attached to mental health services and a greater sense of anxiety about the future. Young men are still a concern to us as they tend not to present as much to counselling and wellbeing services,” she said.

The report also highlighted soaring demand on services. Through a survey of 58 UK higher education providers, it found 94% had experienced an increase in demand for counselling services over the past five years, while 61% had seen demand jump by more than a quarter.

The proportion of students using, or waiting to use, counselling services was as high as 26% at some universities.

The report recommends that the Department of Health introduce a new NHS Student Health Fund, with local partnerships of health and education providers bidding to deliver innovative models of integrated care to students.

It also called for a new student premium to top up the funding of GP practices with high proportions of patients who are students, as these practices receive less funding per head.

Thorley said: “As a first step, the university sector should make a firm commitment to drive up quality and increase access to support services. Along with strengthened NHS provision and funding, this will help ensure that no student is held back by their mental health.

A Department for Education spokesperson said the government had worked with Universities UK to improve mental health support. “We expect all universities to take the wellbeing of their students seriously and ensure that they are providing them with the right support … Later this year the government will also publish a green paper with proposals to improve mental health services,” they said.

‘I ended up in hospital just before my finals’ – Laura Day, 21

Laura Day, who studied at Cambridge and is now doing a master’s at Durham.


Laura Day, who studied at Cambridge and is now doing a master’s at Durham. Photograph: Sarah Marsh

Anxiety feels like there’s bubble-wrap between you and the rest of the world, and you’re trying to get through that to be a normal person but you can’t. It’s worrying about ridiculous and inconsequential things that fill your head, pushing out everything else.

I did my undergraduate studies at Cambridge University – an inspiring place, but it can also be toxic and, for me, it brought out my anxiety and depression. It heightened the feeling I had that I was not good enough.

My mental health problems came to a head this year when I ended up in hospital in January, just before my finals. I thought I was having a heart attack but it turned out to just be anxiety.

I definitely struggled during my time at university but I found support through the college counsellor. Each Cambridge college also has a nurse, and so I spoke to her. She was very helpful. The porters at my college were also always there for me if I needed someone to talk to as they lived with us 24 hours a day.

I graduated from Cambridge and am starting a master’s at Durham in September.

There is definitely more pressure on students to get something out of their degree. During my third year I looked around at people applying for master’s courses and jobs. I was told to get a job but didn’t know what to do. I’ve now decided to do a master’s but you pay so much for university and young people now feel the weight of that.

‘Depression meant I struggled to leave my room’ – Lucas North, 20

Lucas North, a student at York University.


Lucas North, a student at York University. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

I have depression and autism, both formally diagnosed after coming to university. I experienced these illnesses before then but only sought treatment when I was at York University because it got bad and I was worried about my academic performance.

I found it hard in my first year to adapt to working and my attendance in seminars was really bad. I kept missing stuff because depression meant I struggled to leave my room. In the second term of my first year I was having a really bad month and had missed half of my seminars and was like, ‘I need to address this because it’s really affecting me academically.’ That’s when I spoke to my GP.

Depression for me feels like having a lot of motivation and wanting to do everything but having no energy. It left me quite isolated. I am not sure help at university is good enough as I know loads of people who have not been able to get counselling appointments.

It’s good that services are there, but there’s not enough funding. I would say about half of all students experience problems to some degree, maybe not serious mental health problems but low wellbeing or mood.

In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here.

Suicide is at record level among students at UK universities, study finds

A growing number of undergraduates are reporting mental health problems, according to a report that shows a record number of students have killed themselves in recent years.

The scale of the mental health crisis at UK universities is revealed in a study by the IPPR thinktank. It shows that the number of students who disclosed a mental health problem in their first year rose fivefold to reach 15,395 in a decade.

Analysts also found that a record 134 students killed themselves in 2015. In the same year a record number of students with mental health problems dropped out of university.

Experts put the rise down to growing pressure on students who leave university with huge debt, as well as increased awareness – meaning more people are reporting problems.

Mark Salter, a spokesman for the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said it was “deeply alarming” that student suicide numbers had nearly doubled in the past decade.

“We know that the government needs to do much more to stop people reaching the level of desperation where they take their own lives. Suicide is preventable … without proper resourcing and funding, we will not reduce suicide in England,” he said.

Craig Thorley, an IPPR senior research fellow, said young people’s studies risked being disrupted.

“Universities must be ready to support these students, including, where appropriate, through referral into specialist care. But the extent of support is currently too varied, and many university services are overwhelmed by the level of demand,” he said.

The report called for universities to ensure that their counselling services had close links with local GPs and mental health services.

Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, said the findings were “shocking” and should act as a “massive wake-up call to universities to take this area much more seriously”.

He said: “Some vice-chancellors still think [mental health care] is not the business of universities and it’s just about development of the mind, but developing minds means nothing unless you also help people learn how to become settled down and ready to learn.”

The Labour MP Luciana Berger said the research uncovered worrying levels of mental ill-health: “The wellbeing of students cannot be an afterthought. The government and universities must take on board the recommendations and create the conditions in which our next generation can get help and flourish.”

New analysis found female first-year students were significantly more likely than their male counterparts to disclose a mental health condition in 2015-16, whereas four years previously both were equally likely.

Ruth Caleb, wellbeing consultant at Brunel University, said the rise could be down to the fact that more students now came to university already anxious and worried about the degree they would get, as well as the debt they would be saddled with as their working lives began.

“The rise is due to a combination of more awareness of mental health issues, a lowering of the taboo previously attached to mental health services and a greater sense of anxiety about the future. Young men are still a concern to us as they tend not to present as much to counselling and wellbeing services,” she said.

The report also highlighted soaring demand on services. Through a survey of 58 UK higher education providers, it found 94% had experienced an increase in demand for counselling services over the past five years, while 61% had seen demand jump by more than a quarter.

The proportion of students using, or waiting to use, counselling services was as high as 26% at some universities.

The report recommends that the Department of Health introduce a new NHS Student Health Fund, with local partnerships of health and education providers bidding to deliver innovative models of integrated care to students.

It also called for a new student premium to top up the funding of GP practices with high proportions of patients who are students, as these practices receive less funding per head.

Thorley said: “As a first step, the university sector should make a firm commitment to drive up quality and increase access to support services. Along with strengthened NHS provision and funding, this will help ensure that no student is held back by their mental health.

A Department for Education spokesperson said the government had worked with Universities UK to improve mental health support. “We expect all universities to take the wellbeing of their students seriously and ensure that they are providing them with the right support … Later this year the government will also publish a green paper with proposals to improve mental health services,” they said.

‘I ended up in hospital just before my finals’ – Laura Day, 21

Laura Day, who studied at Cambridge and is now doing a master’s at Durham.


Laura Day, who studied at Cambridge and is now doing a master’s at Durham. Photograph: Sarah Marsh

Anxiety feels like there’s bubble-wrap between you and the rest of the world, and you’re trying to get through that to be a normal person but you can’t. It’s worrying about ridiculous and inconsequential things that fill your head, pushing out everything else.

I did my undergraduate studies at Cambridge University – an inspiring place, but it can also be toxic and, for me, it brought out my anxiety and depression. It heightened the feeling I had that I was not good enough.

My mental health problems came to a head this year when I ended up in hospital in January, just before my finals. I thought I was having a heart attack but it turned out to just be anxiety.

I definitely struggled during my time at university but I found support through the college counsellor. Each Cambridge college also has a nurse, and so I spoke to her. She was very helpful. The porters at my college were also always there for me if I needed someone to talk to as they lived with us 24 hours a day.

I graduated from Cambridge and am starting a master’s at Durham in September.

There is definitely more pressure on students to get something out of their degree. During my third year I looked around at people applying for master’s courses and jobs. I was told to get a job but didn’t know what to do. I’ve now decided to do a master’s but you pay so much for university and young people now feel the weight of that.

‘Depression meant I struggled to leave my room’ – Lucas North, 20

Lucas North, a student at York University.


Lucas North, a student at York University. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

I have depression and autism, both formally diagnosed after coming to university. I experienced these illnesses before then but only sought treatment when I was at York University because it got bad and I was worried about my academic performance.

I found it hard in my first year to adapt to working and my attendance in seminars was really bad. I kept missing stuff because depression meant I struggled to leave my room. In the second term of my first year I was having a really bad month and had missed half of my seminars and was like, ‘I need to address this because it’s really affecting me academically.’ That’s when I spoke to my GP.

Depression for me feels like having a lot of motivation and wanting to do everything but having no energy. It left me quite isolated. I am not sure help at university is good enough as I know loads of people who have not been able to get counselling appointments.

It’s good that services are there, but there’s not enough funding. I would say about half of all students experience problems to some degree, maybe not serious mental health problems but low wellbeing or mood.

In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here.

Suicide is at record level among students at UK universities, study finds

A growing number of undergraduates are reporting mental health problems, according to a report that shows a record number of students have killed themselves in recent years.

The scale of the mental health crisis at UK universities is revealed in a study by the IPPR thinktank. It shows that the number of students who disclosed a mental health problem in their first year rose fivefold to reach 15,395 in a decade.

Analysts also found that a record 134 students killed themselves in 2015. In the same year a record number of students with mental health problems dropped out of university.

Experts put the rise down to growing pressure on students who leave university with huge debt, as well as increased awareness – meaning more people are reporting problems.

Mark Salter, a spokesman for the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said it was “deeply alarming” that student suicide numbers had nearly doubled in the past decade.

“We know that the government needs to do much more to stop people reaching the level of desperation where they take their own lives. Suicide is preventable … without proper resourcing and funding, we will not reduce suicide in England,” he said.

Craig Thorley, an IPPR senior research fellow, said young people’s studies risked being disrupted.

“Universities must be ready to support these students, including, where appropriate, through referral into specialist care. But the extent of support is currently too varied, and many university services are overwhelmed by the level of demand,” he said.

The report called for universities to ensure that their counselling services had close links with local GPs and mental health services.

Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, said the findings were “shocking” and should act as a “massive wake-up call to universities to take this area much more seriously”.

He said: “Some vice-chancellors still think [mental health care] is not the business of universities and it’s just about development of the mind, but developing minds means nothing unless you also help people learn how to become settled down and ready to learn.”

The Labour MP Luciana Berger said the research uncovered worrying levels of mental ill-health: “The wellbeing of students cannot be an afterthought. The government and universities must take on board the recommendations and create the conditions in which our next generation can get help and flourish.”

New analysis found female first-year students were significantly more likely than their male counterparts to disclose a mental health condition in 2015-16, whereas four years previously both were equally likely.

Ruth Caleb, wellbeing consultant at Brunel University, said the rise could be down to the fact that more students now came to university already anxious and worried about the degree they would get, as well as the debt they would be saddled with as their working lives began.

“The rise is due to a combination of more awareness of mental health issues, a lowering of the taboo previously attached to mental health services and a greater sense of anxiety about the future. Young men are still a concern to us as they tend not to present as much to counselling and wellbeing services,” she said.

The report also highlighted soaring demand on services. Through a survey of 58 UK higher education providers, it found 94% had experienced an increase in demand for counselling services over the past five years, while 61% had seen demand jump by more than a quarter.

The proportion of students using, or waiting to use, counselling services was as high as 26% at some universities.

The report recommends that the Department of Health introduce a new NHS Student Health Fund, with local partnerships of health and education providers bidding to deliver innovative models of integrated care to students.

It also called for a new student premium to top up the funding of GP practices with high proportions of patients who are students, as these practices receive less funding per head.

Thorley said: “As a first step, the university sector should make a firm commitment to drive up quality and increase access to support services. Along with strengthened NHS provision and funding, this will help ensure that no student is held back by their mental health.

‘I ended up in hospital just before my finals’ – Laura Day, 21

Laura Day, who studied at Cambridge and is now doing a master’s at Durham.


Laura Day, who studied at Cambridge and is now doing a master’s at Durham. Photograph: Sarah Marsh

Anxiety feels like there’s bubble-wrap between you and the rest of the world, and you’re trying to get through that to be a normal person but you can’t. It’s worrying about ridiculous and inconsequential things that fill your head, pushing out everything else.

I did my undergraduate studies at Cambridge University – an inspiring place, but it can also be toxic and, for me, it brought out my anxiety and depression. It heightened the feeling I had that I was not good enough.

My mental health problems came to a head this year when I ended up in hospital in January, just before my finals. I thought I was having a heart attack but it turned out to just be anxiety.

I definitely struggled during my time at university but I found support through the college counsellor. Each Cambridge college also has a nurse, and so I spoke to her. She was very helpful. The porters at my college were also always there for me if I needed someone to talk to as they lived with us 24 hours a day.

I graduated from Cambridge and am starting a master’s at Durham in September.

There is definitely more pressure on students to get something out of their degree. During my third year I looked around at people applying for master’s courses and jobs. I was told to get a job but didn’t know what to do. I’ve now decided to do a master’s but you pay so much for university and young people now feel the weight of that.

‘Depression meant I struggled to leave my room’ – Lucas North, 20

Lucas North, a student at York University.


Lucas North, a student at York University. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

I have depression and autism, both formally diagnosed after coming to university. I experienced these illnesses before then but only sought treatment when I was at York University because it got bad and I was worried about my academic performance.

I found it hard in my first year to adapt to working and my attendance in seminars was really bad. I kept missing stuff because depression meant I struggled to leave my room. In the second term of my first year I was having a really bad month and had missed half of my seminars and was like, ‘I need to address this because it’s really affecting me academically.’ That’s when I spoke to my GP.

Depression for me feels like having a lot of motivation and wanting to do everything but having no energy. It left me quite isolated. I am not sure help at university is good enough as I know loads of people who have not been able to get counselling appointments.

It’s good that services are there, but there’s not enough funding. I would say about half of all students experience problems to some degree, maybe not serious mental health problems but low wellbeing or mood.

In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here.

Anti-inflammatory drugs may lower heart attack risk, study finds

Anti-inflammatory injections could lower the risk of heart attacks and may slow the progression of cancer, a study has found, in what researchers say is the biggest breakthrough since the discovery of statins.

Heart attack survivors given injections of a targeted anti-inflammatory drug called canakinumab had fewer attacks in the future, scientists found. Cancer deaths were also halved in those treated with the drug, which is normally used only for rare inflammatory conditions.

Statins are the mainstay drugs for heart attack prevention and work primarily by lowering cholesterol levels. But a quarter of people who have one heart attack will suffer another within five years despite taking statins regularly. It is believed this is because of unchecked inflammation within the heart’s arteries.

The research team, led from Brigham and Women’s Hhospital in Boston, tested whether targeting the inflammation with a potent anti-inflammatory agent would provide an extra benefit over statin treatment.

The researchers enrolled more than 10,000 patients who had had a heart attack and had a positive blood test for inflammation into the trial, known as the Cantos study. All patients received high doses of statins as well as either canakinumab or a placebo, both administered by injection every three months. The trial lasted for four years.

For patients who received the canakinumab injections the team reported a 15% reduction in the risk of a cardiovascular event, including fatal and non-fatal heart attacks and strokes. Also, the need for expensive interventional procedures, such as bypass surgery and inserting stents, was cut by more than 30%. There was no overall difference in death rates between patients on canakinumab and those given placebo injections, and the drug did not change cholesterol levels.

Dr Paul Ridker, who led the research team, said the study “usher in a new era of therapeutics”.

“For the first time, we’ve been able to definitively show that lowering inflammation independent of cholesterol reduces cardiovascular risk,” he said.

“This has far-reaching implications. It tells us that by leveraging an entirely new way to treat patients – targeting inflammation – we may be able to significantly improve outcomes for certain very high-risk populations.”

The hospital said the reductions in risk were “above and beyond” those seen in patients who only took statins.

Ridker said the study showed that the use of anti-inflammatories was the next big breakthrough following the linkage of lifestyle issues and then statins.

“In my lifetime, I’ve gotten to see three broad eras of preventative cardiology,” he said. “In the first, we recognised the importance of diet, exercise and smoking cessation. In the second, we saw the tremendous value of lipid-lowering drugs such as statins. Now, we’re cracking the door open on the third era. This is very exciting.”

But there were some downsides to the treatment. The researchers reported an increase in the chances of dying from a severe infection of about one for every 1,000 people treated, although this was offset by an unexpected halving of cancer deaths across all cancer types. In particular, the odds of succumbing to lung cancer were cut by over 75%, for reasons the team do not yet understand. The researchers are planning further trials to investigate canakinumab’s potentially protective effect against cancer.

Dr Paul Ridker, who led the study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, said it had far-reaching implications.

“It tells us that by leveraging an entirely new way to treat patients – targeting inflammation – we may be able to improve outcomes for certain very high-risk populations,” he said.

Prof Martin Bennett, a cardiologist from Cambridge who was not involved in the study, said the trial results were an important advance in understanding why heart attacks happen. But, he said, he had concerns about the side effects, the high cost of the drug and the fact that death rates were not better in those given the drug.

“Treatment of UK patients is unlikely to change very much as a result of this trial, but the results do support investigation of other drugs that inhibit inflammation for cardiovascular disease, and the use of this drug in cancer,” he said.

Prof Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, was optimistic about the trial opening the door to new types of treatment for heart attacks.

“Nearly 200,000 people are hospitalised due to heart attacks every year in the UK,” Pearson said. “Cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins are given to these people to reduce their risk of another heart attack and this undoubtedly saves lives. But we know that lowering cholesterol alone is not always enough.

“These exciting and long-awaited trial results finally confirm that ongoing inflammation contributes to risk of heart disease, and [lowering it] could help save lives.”

Anti-inflammatory drugs may lower heart attack risk, study finds

Anti-inflammatory injections could lower the risk of heart attacks and may slow the progression of cancer, a study has found, in what researchers say is the biggest breakthrough since the discovery of statins.

Heart attack survivors given injections of a targeted anti-inflammatory drug called canakinumab had fewer attacks in the future, scientists found. Cancer deaths were also halved in those treated with the drug, which is normally used only for rare inflammatory conditions.

Statins are the mainstay drugs for heart attack prevention and work primarily by lowering cholesterol levels. But a quarter of people who have one heart attack will suffer another within five years despite taking statins regularly. It is believed this is because of unchecked inflammation within the heart’s arteries.

The research team, led from Brigham and Women’s Hhospital in Boston, tested whether targeting the inflammation with a potent anti-inflammatory agent would provide an extra benefit over statin treatment.

The researchers enrolled more than 10,000 patients who had had a heart attack and had a positive blood test for inflammation into the trial, known as the Cantos study. All patients received high doses of statins as well as either canakinumab or a placebo, both administered by injection every three months. The trial lasted for four years.

For patients who received the canakinumab injections the team reported a 15% reduction in the risk of a cardiovascular event, including fatal and non-fatal heart attacks and strokes. Also, the need for expensive interventional procedures, such as bypass surgery and inserting stents, was cut by more than 30%. There was no overall difference in death rates between patients on canakinumab and those given placebo injections, and the drug did not change cholesterol levels.

Dr Paul Ridker, who led the research team, said the study “usher in a new era of therapeutics”.

“For the first time, we’ve been able to definitively show that lowering inflammation independent of cholesterol reduces cardiovascular risk,” he said.

“This has far-reaching implications. It tells us that by leveraging an entirely new way to treat patients – targeting inflammation – we may be able to significantly improve outcomes for certain very high-risk populations.”

The hospital said the reductions in risk were “above and beyond” those seen in patients who only took statins.

Ridker said the study showed that the use of anti-inflammatories was the next big breakthrough following the linkage of lifestyle issues and then statins.

“In my lifetime, I’ve gotten to see three broad eras of preventative cardiology,” he said. “In the first, we recognised the importance of diet, exercise and smoking cessation. In the second, we saw the tremendous value of lipid-lowering drugs such as statins. Now, we’re cracking the door open on the third era. This is very exciting.”

But there were some downsides to the treatment. The researchers reported an increase in the chances of dying from a severe infection of about one for every 1,000 people treated, although this was offset by an unexpected halving of cancer deaths across all cancer types. In particular, the odds of succumbing to lung cancer were cut by over 75%, for reasons the team do not yet understand. The researchers are planning further trials to investigate canakinumab’s potentially protective effect against cancer.

Dr Paul Ridker, who led the study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, said it had far-reaching implications.

“It tells us that by leveraging an entirely new way to treat patients – targeting inflammation – we may be able to improve outcomes for certain very high-risk populations,” he said.

Prof Martin Bennett, a cardiologist from Cambridge who was not involved in the study, said the trial results were an important advance in understanding why heart attacks happen. But, he said, he had concerns about the side effects, the high cost of the drug and the fact that death rates were not better in those given the drug.

“Treatment of UK patients is unlikely to change very much as a result of this trial, but the results do support investigation of other drugs that inhibit inflammation for cardiovascular disease, and the use of this drug in cancer,” he said.

Prof Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, was optimistic about the trial opening the door to new types of treatment for heart attacks.

“Nearly 200,000 people are hospitalised due to heart attacks every year in the UK,” Pearson said. “Cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins are given to these people to reduce their risk of another heart attack and this undoubtedly saves lives. But we know that lowering cholesterol alone is not always enough.

“These exciting and long-awaited trial results finally confirm that ongoing inflammation contributes to risk of heart disease, and [lowering it] could help save lives.”

Anti-inflammatory drugs may lower heart attack risk, study finds

Anti-inflammatory injections could lower the risk of heart attacks and may slow the progression of cancer, a study has found.

Heart attack survivors given injections of a targeted anti-inflammatory drug called canakinumab had fewer attacks in the future, scientists found. Cancer deaths were also halved in those treated with the drug, which is normally used only for rare inflammatory conditions.

Statins are the mainstay drugs for heart attack prevention and work primarily by lowering cholesterol levels. But a quarter of people who have one heart attack will suffer another within five years despite taking statins regularly. It is believed this is because of unchecked inflammation within the heart’s arteries.

The research team, led from Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston, tested whether targeting this inflammation with a potent anti-inflammatory agent would provide an extra benefit over statin treatment.

They enrolled more than 10,000 patients who had had a heart attack and had a positive blood test for inflammation into the trial, known as the Cantos study. All patients received high doses of statins as well as either canakinumab or a placebo, both administered by injection every three months. The trial lasted for four years.

For patients who received the canakinumab injections the team reported a 15% reduction in the risk of a cardiovascular event, including fatal and non-fatal heart attacks and strokes. Also, the need for expensive interventional procedures, such as bypass surgery and inserting stents, was cut by more than 30%. There was no overall difference in death rates between patients on canakinumab and those given placebo injections, and the drug did not change cholesterol levels.

But there were some downsides to the treatment. The researchers reported an increase in the chances of dying from a severe infection of about one for every 1,000 people treated, although this was offset by an unexpected halving of cancer deaths across all cancer types. In particular, the odds of succumbing to lung cancer were cut by over 75%, for reasons the team do not yet understand. The researchers are planning further trials to investigate canakinumab’s potentially protective effect against cancer.

Dr Paul Ridker, who led the study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, said it had far-reaching implications.

“It tells us that by leveraging an entirely new way to treat patients – targeting inflammation – we may be able to improve outcomes for certain very high-risk populations,” he said.

Prof Martin Bennett, a cardiologist from Cambridge who was not involved in the study, said the trial results were an important advance in understanding why heart attacks happen. But, he said, he had concerns about the side effects, the high cost of the drug and the fact that death rates were not better in those given the drug.

“Treatment of UK patients is unlikely to change very much as a result of this trial, but the results do support investigation of other drugs that inhibit inflammation for cardiovascular disease, and the use of this drug in cancer,” he said.

Prof Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, was optimistic about the trial opening the door to new types of treatment for heart attacks.

“Nearly 200,000 people are hospitalised due to heart attacks every year in the UK,” Pearson said. “Cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins are given to these people to reduce their risk of another heart attack and this undoubtedly saves lives. But we know that lowering cholesterol alone is not always enough.

“These exciting and long-awaited trial results finally confirm that ongoing inflammation contributes to risk of heart disease, and [lowering it] could help save lives.”

Anti-inflammatory drugs may lower heart attack risk, study finds

Anti-inflammatory injections could lower the risk of heart attacks and may slow the progression of cancer, a study has found.

Heart attack survivors given injections of a targeted anti-inflammatory drug called canakinumab had fewer attacks in the future, scientists found. Cancer deaths were also halved in those treated with the drug, which is normally used only for rare inflammatory conditions.

Statins are the mainstay drugs for heart attack prevention and work primarily by lowering cholesterol levels. But a quarter of people who have one heart attack will suffer another within five years despite taking statins regularly. It is believed this is because of unchecked inflammation within the heart’s arteries.

The research team, led from Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston, tested whether targeting this inflammation with a potent anti-inflammatory agent would provide an extra benefit over statin treatment.

They enrolled more than 10,000 patients who had had a heart attack and had a positive blood test for inflammation into the trial, known as the Cantos study. All patients received high doses of statins as well as either canakinumab or a placebo, both administered by injection every three months. The trial lasted for four years.

For patients who received the canakinumab injections the team reported a 15% reduction in the risk of a cardiovascular event, including fatal and non-fatal heart attacks and strokes. Also, the need for expensive interventional procedures, such as bypass surgery and inserting stents, was cut by more than 30%. There was no overall difference in death rates between patients on canakinumab and those given placebo injections, and the drug did not change cholesterol levels.

But there were some downsides to the treatment. The researchers reported an increase in the chances of dying from a severe infection of about one for every 1,000 people treated, although this was offset by an unexpected halving of cancer deaths across all cancer types. In particular, the odds of succumbing to lung cancer were cut by over 75%, for reasons the team do not yet understand. The researchers are planning further trials to investigate canakinumab’s potentially protective effect against cancer.

Dr Paul Ridker, who led the study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, said it had far-reaching implications.

“It tells us that by leveraging an entirely new way to treat patients – targeting inflammation – we may be able to improve outcomes for certain very high-risk populations,” he said.

Prof Martin Bennett, a cardiologist from Cambridge who was not involved in the study, said the trial results were an important advance in understanding why heart attacks happen. But, he said, he had concerns about the side effects, the high cost of the drug and the fact that death rates were not better in those given the drug.

“Treatment of UK patients is unlikely to change very much as a result of this trial, but the results do support investigation of other drugs that inhibit inflammation for cardiovascular disease, and the use of this drug in cancer,” he said.

Prof Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, was optimistic about the trial opening the door to new types of treatment for heart attacks.

“Nearly 200,000 people are hospitalised due to heart attacks every year in the UK,” Pearson said. “Cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins are given to these people to reduce their risk of another heart attack and this undoubtedly saves lives. But we know that lowering cholesterol alone is not always enough.

“These exciting and long-awaited trial results finally confirm that ongoing inflammation contributes to risk of heart disease, and [lowering it] could help save lives.”

Anti-inflammatory drugs may lower heart attack risk, study finds

Anti-inflammatory injections could lower the risk of heart attacks and may slow the progression of cancer, a study has found.

Heart attack survivors given injections of a targeted anti-inflammatory drug called canakinumab had fewer attacks in the future, scientists found. Cancer deaths were also halved in those treated with the drug, which is normally used only for rare inflammatory conditions.

Statins are the mainstay drugs for heart attack prevention and work primarily by lowering cholesterol levels. But a quarter of people who have one heart attack will suffer another within five years despite taking statins regularly. It is believed this is because of unchecked inflammation within the heart’s arteries.

The research team, led from Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston, tested whether targeting this inflammation with a potent anti-inflammatory agent would provide an extra benefit over statin treatment.

They enrolled more than 10,000 patients who had had a heart attack and had a positive blood test for inflammation into the trial, known as the Cantos study. All patients received high doses of statins as well as either canakinumab or a placebo, both administered by injection every three months. The trial lasted for four years.

For patients who received the canakinumab injections the team reported a 15% reduction in the risk of a cardiovascular event, including fatal and non-fatal heart attacks and strokes. Also, the need for expensive interventional procedures, such as bypass surgery and inserting stents, was cut by more than 30%. There was no overall difference in death rates between patients on canakinumab and those given placebo injections, and the drug did not change cholesterol levels.

But there were some downsides to the treatment. The researchers reported an increase in the chances of dying from a severe infection of about one for every 1,000 people treated, although this was offset by an unexpected halving of cancer deaths across all cancer types. In particular, the odds of succumbing to lung cancer were cut by over 75%, for reasons the team do not yet understand. The researchers are planning further trials to investigate canakinumab’s potentially protective effect against cancer.

Dr Paul Ridker, who led the study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, said it had far-reaching implications.

“It tells us that by leveraging an entirely new way to treat patients – targeting inflammation – we may be able to improve outcomes for certain very high-risk populations,” he said.

Prof Martin Bennett, a cardiologist from Cambridge who was not involved in the study, said the trial results were an important advance in understanding why heart attacks happen. But, he said, he had concerns about the side effects, the high cost of the drug and the fact that death rates were not better in those given the drug.

“Treatment of UK patients is unlikely to change very much as a result of this trial, but the results do support investigation of other drugs that inhibit inflammation for cardiovascular disease, and the use of this drug in cancer,” he said.

Prof Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, was optimistic about the trial opening the door to new types of treatment for heart attacks.

“Nearly 200,000 people are hospitalised due to heart attacks every year in the UK,” Pearson said. “Cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins are given to these people to reduce their risk of another heart attack and this undoubtedly saves lives. But we know that lowering cholesterol alone is not always enough.

“These exciting and long-awaited trial results finally confirm that ongoing inflammation contributes to risk of heart disease, and [lowering it] could help save lives.”

Anti-inflammatory drugs may lower heart attack risk, study finds

Anti-inflammatory injections could lower the risk of heart attacks and may slow the progression of cancer, a study has found.

Heart attack survivors given injections of a targeted anti-inflammatory drug called canakinumab had fewer attacks in the future, scientists found. Cancer deaths were also halved in those treated with the drug, which is normally used only for rare inflammatory conditions.

Statins are the mainstay drugs for heart attack prevention and work primarily by lowering cholesterol levels. But a quarter of people who have one heart attack will suffer another within five years despite taking statins regularly. It is believed this is because of unchecked inflammation within the heart’s arteries.

The research team, led from Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston, tested whether targeting this inflammation with a potent anti-inflammatory agent would provide an extra benefit over statin treatment.

They enrolled more than 10,000 patients who had had a heart attack and had a positive blood test for inflammation into the trial, known as the Cantos study. All patients received high doses of statins as well as either canakinumab or a placebo, both administered by injection every three months. The trial lasted for four years.

For patients who received the canakinumab injections the team reported a 15% reduction in the risk of a cardiovascular event, including fatal and non-fatal heart attacks and strokes. Also, the need for expensive interventional procedures, such as bypass surgery and inserting stents, was cut by more than 30%. There was no overall difference in death rates between patients on canakinumab and those given placebo injections, and the drug did not change cholesterol levels.

But there were some downsides to the treatment. The researchers reported an increase in the chances of dying from a severe infection of about one for every 1,000 people treated, although this was offset by an unexpected halving of cancer deaths across all cancer types. In particular, the odds of succumbing to lung cancer were cut by over 75%, for reasons the team do not yet understand. The researchers are planning further trials to investigate canakinumab’s potentially protective effect against cancer.

Dr Paul Ridker, who led the study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, said it had far-reaching implications.

“It tells us that by leveraging an entirely new way to treat patients – targeting inflammation – we may be able to improve outcomes for certain very high-risk populations,” he said.

Prof Martin Bennett, a cardiologist from Cambridge who was not involved in the study, said the trial results were an important advance in understanding why heart attacks happen. But, he said, he had concerns about the side effects, the high cost of the drug and the fact that death rates were not better in those given the drug.

“Treatment of UK patients is unlikely to change very much as a result of this trial, but the results do support investigation of other drugs that inhibit inflammation for cardiovascular disease, and the use of this drug in cancer,” he said.

Prof Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, was optimistic about the trial opening the door to new types of treatment for heart attacks.

“Nearly 200,000 people are hospitalised due to heart attacks every year in the UK,” Pearson said. “Cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins are given to these people to reduce their risk of another heart attack and this undoubtedly saves lives. But we know that lowering cholesterol alone is not always enough.

“These exciting and long-awaited trial results finally confirm that ongoing inflammation contributes to risk of heart disease, and [lowering it] could help save lives.”

Anti-inflammatory drugs may lower heart attack risk, study finds

Anti-inflammatory injections could lower the risk of heart attacks and may slow the progression of cancer, a study has found.

Heart attack survivors given injections of a targeted anti-inflammatory drug called canakinumab had fewer attacks in the future, scientists found. Cancer deaths were also halved in those treated with the drug, which is normally used only for rare inflammatory conditions.

Statins are the mainstay drugs for heart attack prevention and work primarily by lowering cholesterol levels. But a quarter of people who have one heart attack will suffer another within five years despite taking statins regularly. It is believed this is because of unchecked inflammation within the heart’s arteries.

The research team, led from Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston, tested whether targeting this inflammation with a potent anti-inflammatory agent would provide an extra benefit over statin treatment.

They enrolled more than 10,000 patients who had had a heart attack and had a positive blood test for inflammation into the trial, known as the Cantos study. All patients received high doses of statins as well as either canakinumab or a placebo, both administered by injection every three months. The trial lasted for four years.

For patients who received the canakinumab injections the team reported a 15% reduction in the risk of a cardiovascular event, including fatal and non-fatal heart attacks and strokes. Also, the need for expensive interventional procedures, such as bypass surgery and inserting stents, was cut by more than 30%. There was no overall difference in death rates between patients on canakinumab and those given placebo injections, and the drug did not change cholesterol levels.

But there were some downsides to the treatment. The researchers reported an increase in the chances of dying from a severe infection of about one for every 1,000 people treated, although this was offset by an unexpected halving of cancer deaths across all cancer types. In particular, the odds of succumbing to lung cancer were cut by over 75%, for reasons the team do not yet understand. The researchers are planning further trials to investigate canakinumab’s potentially protective effect against cancer.

Dr Paul Ridker, who led the study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, said it had far-reaching implications.

“It tells us that by leveraging an entirely new way to treat patients – targeting inflammation – we may be able to improve outcomes for certain very high-risk populations,” he said.

Prof Martin Bennett, a cardiologist from Cambridge who was not involved in the study, said the trial results were an important advance in understanding why heart attacks happen. But, he said, he had concerns about the side effects, the high cost of the drug and the fact that death rates were not better in those given the drug.

“Treatment of UK patients is unlikely to change very much as a result of this trial, but the results do support investigation of other drugs that inhibit inflammation for cardiovascular disease, and the use of this drug in cancer,” he said.

Prof Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, was optimistic about the trial opening the door to new types of treatment for heart attacks.

“Nearly 200,000 people are hospitalised due to heart attacks every year in the UK,” Pearson said. “Cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins are given to these people to reduce their risk of another heart attack and this undoubtedly saves lives. But we know that lowering cholesterol alone is not always enough.

“These exciting and long-awaited trial results finally confirm that ongoing inflammation contributes to risk of heart disease, and [lowering it] could help save lives.”