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Procoralan reduces heart failure deaths

Servier's angina drug Procoralan can reduce deaths and hospital admissions due to heart failure by around 25 per cent, according to a new study

Servier's angina drug Procoralan (ivabradine) can reduce deaths and hospital admissions due to heart failure by around 25 per cent, according to a study published in The Lancet.

More than 6,500 people with severe heart failure were tracked in the SHIFT trial, including those who had a recent hospitalisation, poor cardiac pumping power and a heart rate of at least 70 beats per minute at rest.

Patients treated with Procoralan in addition to standard therapy were 18 per cent less likely to die from cardiovascular diseases or be admitted to the hospital for worsening symptoms than those on placebo after almost two years.

The trial also showed the treatment lowered heart rate to an average 65 beats per minute from a starting point of 80, compared with a reduction to 75 beats among those taking a placebo.

Heart failure occurs when the muscle is too damaged to pump enough blood to the body. Procoralan latches on to part of the electrical system that causes the heart to contract, slowing the heart rate.

Professsor Cowie, a consultant cardiologist at the Royal Brompton Hospital, London, said: "This is a very clean way of dropping the heart rate. Patients on beta blockers complain of fatigue, tiredness and impotence and may stop taking it."

John Teerlink, director of the heart failure clinic at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Centre said it's too soon to draw conclusions form the report. He noted that less than one in four patients were receiving the recommended dose of standard therapy and less than three per cent had medical devices like defibrillators.

He said: "It is not clear that SHIFT successfully tested the hypothesis that ivabradine provided additional benefit to patients with heart failure treated with contemporary optimal heart-failure therapies."

He added, the drug "should only be considered for patients truly intolerant to or on maximally tolerated heart-failure therapies."

31st August 2010

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