New drug shows promise for saving lives from heart failure

ATLANTA, Nov. 10 -- A new drug for heart failure saves lives and reduces symptoms, according to a study presented today at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions.

The new drug, called omapatrilat, is a member of a new class of compounds called vasopeptidase inhibitors.

The results of this study, combined with others, suggest that the use of omapatrilat may reduce deaths and hospitalizations from congestive heart failure by as much as 30 percent, says Jean-Lucien Rouleau, M.D., director of cardiology, Mount Sinai Hospital Association at the University Health Network of Toronto, Canada. "It's a potential breakthrough in the treatment of congestive heart failure."

Congestive heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump enough blood to meet the needs of other organs in the body. It occurs in hearts that are damaged or overworked after a heart attack, high blood pressure, heart valve disease, congenital defects or infection of the heart or its valves. Drugs used to treat heart failure include digitalis, which increases the heart's pumping action; diuretics, which help eliminate the buildup of fluid in the body's tissues; and vasodilators, which expand blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more easily and making the heart's work easier and more efficient.

Among the vasodilators is a class of drugs know as angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which interfere with the body's production of angiotensin, a chemical that causes arteries to constrict.

The problem with ACE inhibitors, according to Rouleau, is that they do not work on all substances in the body that promote abnormal constriction of arteries, which is characteristic of heart failure.

The new drug works in two ways. Like conventional ACE inhibitors, it blocks the action of angiotensin, inhibiting the constrictive action of this substance. But omapatrilat also neutralizes a substance called neutral endopeptidase, resulting in blood vessels rel

Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association

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