A UK health watchdog has recommended AstraZeneca drug Brilique (ticagrelor) for the treatment of acute coronary syndromes caused by blood clots.

In a final draft guidance, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) backed the use of the drug in combination with aspirin as a treatment for people with ST-segment-elevation myocardial infarction who are set to undergo primary percutaneous coronary intervention, a therapeutic procedure used to widen narrowed arteries in the heart.

NICE also recommended the drug for patients with non-ST-segment-elevation myocardial infarction and unstable angina.

Ticagrelor belongs to a class of drugs called anti-platelets, which work by reducing or preventing the formation of blood clots.

The independent appraisal committee has concluded that ticagrelor plus aspirin significantly reduces myocardial infarction and death from cardiovascular causes by 16% and 21% respectively, compared with clopidogrel plus aspirin.

Every year around 200,000 people are diagnosed with acute coronary syndromes in England, of whom around three quarters have unstable angina or non-ST-segment-elevation myocardial infarction.

NICE Health Technology Evaluation Centre director Dr Carole Longson said, “Although mortality from myocardial infarction and other cardiovascular causes has declined in recent years, an increasingly ageing population, coupled with worrying trends in the incidence of obesity and lifestyles that involve less exercise, make the management of acute coronary syndromes a continuing high priority.”