CHICAGO A drug that blocks a heart-harming hormone can significantly reduce the risk of death and hospitalization in heart attack patients who have heart failure, with minimal side effects, a new international study released today shows.
The life-saving effect began soon after patients begin taking the drug, called eplerenone, following their heart attacks. The effect was especially strong if patients were also on other heart medications, according to the results of the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 6,632 patients in 37 countries.
The findings are being released simultaneously today at the 52nd Annual Scientific Sessions of the American College of Cardiology, and in an early online version of the New England Journal of Medicine. They will be published in the April 3 NEJM.
The success of the drug in treating people with heart failure soon after a heart attack comes on top of its recent approval by the Food and Drug Administration to treat high blood pressure. And the study's lead author predicts that more research on the same hormone pathway could lead to further heart disease advances.
"This represents a new advance in to the treatment of heart attack and heart failure," says Bertram Pitt, M.D., the University of Michigan cardiologist who led the study. "Patients receiving eplerenone had 15 percent fewer deaths compared to the placebo group, and 13 percent fewer cardiovascular-related deaths and cardiovascular hospitalizations."
He adds, "Patients who were on optimal therapy in addition to eplerenone, including an ACE inhibitor, beta-blocker, aspirin, and statin, and who had undergone coronary reperfusion, experienced a 26 percent reduction in mortality. Additionally, there was a 21 percent overall reduction in sudden cardiac death, a major cause of mortality in heart failure patients, and 15 percent fewer hospitalizat
Contact: Kara Gavin
University of Michigan Health System