Heartburn drug may help to slow progression of chronic heart failure

ts go out and start taking Pepcid three times a day or anything like that," he said.

Still, the research is important because it opens a new avenue of study in the ongoing effort to treat chronic heart failure, said Dr. Francis, who co-wrote an editorial that will be published in conjunction with Dr. Kitakaze's research. Heart failure, which affects an estimated 23 million people worldwide, occurs when the heart is unable to pump as effectively as it should, resulting in shortness of breath, swelling in the legs and ankles, and other health issues.

For the current study, Dr. Kitakaze and his colleagues at Japan's National Cardiovascular Center began with a unique hypothesis. Based on previous research, they speculated that blocking the effects of a specific chemical released by damaged heart cells would slow the development of heart failure. This chemical, one of several types of histamines produced by the body, also contributes to chronic heartburn and stomach ulcers. Famotidine is a histamine blocker, which prevents the chemical from binding to its receptor and causing problems.

To prove their theory, the researchers began by searching existing medical data for patients being treated for both chronic heart failure and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). As suspected, the patients taking famotidine for their stomach problems seemed to have less-severe heart failure symptoms than patients using other types of stomach remedies. But could heart health really be linked to a stomach medication?

To find out, the researchers designed a prospective study in which 25 patients with both medical conditions were given famotidine and 25 patients were given an alternate heartburn medication called teprenone. (Instead of blocking histamine, this second medication works by causing the stomach to secret more mucous to coat and protect itself against excess acid.)

After 24 weeks, Dr. Kitakaze and his colleagues discovered that a

Contact: Amy Murphy
American College of Cardiology

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