UT Southwestern researcher finds beta-blocking drug reduces heart failure in blacks

DALLAS - May 3, 2001 - The beta-blocking drug carvedilol reduces the risk of death and the symptoms of mild to moderate heart failure in black patients as well as it does in nonblack patients, according to results from the U.S. Carvedilol Heart Failure Trials Program led by a researcher at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

Beta-blockers previously have been shown to be less effective in blacks than in nonblacks. This is the first study to evaluate whether race influences the response to the relatively new beta-blocker carvedilol, which also has alpha-blocking properties, as a treatment for heart failure, a disease that affects 3 percent of all black adults in the United States.

The researchers reported a 54 percent reduction in both death and hospitalization due to progression of heart failure in the black patients enrolled in the study. Similar results also were reported in nonblack patients. Their findings are reported in today's issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

"For a long time, we've had a group of people (blacks) with a bad disease. It affects them worse than anyone else, and we've never really known if there is any therapeutic strategy that makes a difference," said Dr. Clyde Yancy, medical director of the UT Southwestern/St. Paul heart transplant program and lead author of the study.

"We have shown that carvedilol drastically reduces death and the progression of heart failure by 50 percent in this patient population. It's nice to know that risk can be cut in half by taking these medicines," said Yancy.

Several factors account for the high incidence of heart failure among blacks, Yancy said, including hypertension, which is prevalent in blacks, and appears to more aggressively affect other organs in the body. Blacks also have more strokes and kidney failure, Yancy said.

"We've always had concerns that even though we have come up with treatments for heart failure that appear to be very effective, we've never had

Contact: Amy Shields
UT Southwestern Medical Center

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