Metoprolol is a dirt-cheap drug found in the cabinets of grandpas and migraine sufferers across the world. The beta-blocker is a sturdy, reliable medication that’s been on the market for decades. And, it turns out, the entire time it’s been out there, it may have held the key to help surviving heart attacks.
Heart attacks are caused by the coronary artery being blocked. Needless to say, your body freaks out when this happens, and floods your bloodstream with white blood cells called neutrophils. Once the artery is unblocked, the neutrophils flood in and begin destroying damaged heart tissue by using blood platelets, causing inflammation, weakening the heart further, and potentially killing the sufferer. They’re not doing it for giggles; researchers have found this process might help the heart recover, long-term. But it can be an enormous, and fatal, problem.
Metoprolol essentially keeps neutrophils from attacking the heart by blocking it from the platelets. So, instead of unblocking the artery and immediately struggling with inflammation, doctors can delay the process and make it more gradual, so it prevents death. And with 610,000 deaths attributed to heart disease every year, that’s a lot of people who might potentially live a fuller life.
(Via New Atlas)