Heart failure drug helps reduce hospitalisations


A drug often used to treat heart failure patients does little to lower cardiac arrest or death risk among people with a common form of the disease. But it does help reduce hospitalisations, a new study finds.

The study looked at heart failure patients whose hearts were still contracting normally or near normally. These patients account for about 40% of heart failure cases. Currently, there are no drugs to improve the prognoses of these patients, according to the study authors.

The researchers enrolled more than 3 400 patients in six countries who had heart failure with a "left ventricular ejection fraction" of 45% or more – which is considered normal or near normal contractions. Left ventricular ejection fraction is a measurement of how much blood is being pumped out of the heart's main pumping chamber with each contraction.

The patients were randomly assigned to receive 15 milligrams to 45 milligrams a day of spironolactone (Aldactone) or an inactive placebo, and were followed for an average of just over three years.

Eliminates excess fluid

Spironolactone is given to heart failure patients because it helps eliminate the excess fluid from the body that makes it hard for the heart to pump, and lowers blood pressure.

The study authors wanted to see how many patients were either hospitalised for heart failure, survived cardiac arrest, or suffered heart-related death – whichever occurred first. These events occurred in 18.6% of the patients who took spironolactone and in 20.4% of those in the placebo group.

Read: Heart drug may help more in higher doses

When the outcomes were examined separately, those taking the drug did have a lower rate of hospitalization than those who took the placebo (12%versus 14.2%), according to the report published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study shows the potential effectiveness of spironolactone "in reducing the need for hospitalisations for heart failure in this population, as well as providing clues for more effectively designing future studies" to help reduce heart failure death rates, study co-senior author Dr Bertram Pitt, of the University of Michigan School of Medicine, said in a Brigham and Women's Hospital news release.

The study was funded by the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Read more:
Women cope better with heart failure
Avandia may up heart failure risk

Sleep apnoea treatment protects heart

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
32% - 9432 votes
68% - 19939 votes