Tens of thousands of Scots are to take part in new drug trial to determine the best treatment following a heart attack.

Nearly 20,000 people will be included in the clinical trial which is being funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

Every 20 minutes someone goes to hospital in Scotland because of a heart attack and there are over 25,000 such hospital visits each year.

In the weeks and months following a heart attack, people are at a high risk of experiencing another and are prescribed blood-thinning drugs.

However there are current disagreements around the optimum time to take these drugs.

At the end of the five year-trial, they will be able to say how long people should be prescribed anti-platelet medicines after a heart attack.

A team from the University of Edinburgh, and lead by BHF Professor of Cardiology David Newby, was awarded a grant of £630,000 to undertake the trial.

Professor Newby said: “We really need to know how long to give these drugs as it has implications for health benefits, hazards of side-effects and overall cost of the treatment.

"We are delighted that all Cardiologists across Scotland have come together to perform this trial and look forward to working in partnership with our patients to address this simple but critical question.”

James Cant, Director at BHF Scotland said: “We need to find out how best to treat people who suffer a heart attack to ensure they don’t return to hospital and I’m delighted to say the BHF is funding pioneering research in Scotland’s capital that could influence medical decisions in the future at home and abroad.”

Mr Lindsay Ross, from Inverurie, suffered a heart attack three years ago while hillwalking in the Cairngorms.

He was prescribed two anti-platelet medications: Aspirin and Clopidogrel. He’s still on a low dose of Aspirin but the Clopidogrel was stopped after one year.

He said: “I’m aware that it’s accepted by the medical profession that the potential benefits of taking these anti-platelet drugs outweigh the side effects, some of which can be serious.

“I think it’s very important to ensure that any treatment involving these medicines is well understood and therefore I am pleased to learn that the BHF is funding such research, and that scientists have the support of Cardiologists across Scotland to work in partnership to address this issue.”