New drug may help with heart failure

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It’s a chronic, pervasive problem; Heart failure impacts millions of Americans, shortening their lives and reducing the quality of their daily lives. It’s been a decade since doctors and patients have had renewed hope. But a new drug is infusing a sense of excitement.

“The holy grail of heart failure is to reverse what is going on in the heart and try to get some regeneration and make the heart stronger. Sometimes, by letting the heart work less it will become stronger,” said Dr Nir Uriel, University of Chicago cardiologist.

And that’s the job of conventional medications.   The current cocktail helps ease the heart’s workload. But there have been no new drugs in 10 years.

“Since 2004 we didn’t have any new medications for heart failure. So we’re very excited,” said Dr Uriel.

It’s this drug University of Chicago medicine cardiologist Dr Uriel is so excited about – for now it’s called LCZ696 – and it works at the hormonal level to dilate vessels and help patients remove more fluid.

“This medication was studied in almost 10,000 patients and was shown to be superior to the current therapy that we were using. The investigational drug was shown to reduce mortality and hospital readmissions by 20 percent. “

The study results are encouraging for Ayanna Coleman. Her symptoms of heart failure started this past summer when her ankles swelled with fluid. After weeks of investigation, she learned her heart’s ability to pump was significantly weakened. She started a course of conventional medications and had a defibrillator placed.

Conventional treatments have already improved her symptoms. And once it’s available, LCZ696 may help even more to extend the 43-year-olds life.

Dr Uriel said, “We do the best we can however the patient deteriorates. To have another tool in our hands to try to take those patients and prolong the time they can live with their own hearts it’s huge.”

50% of heart failure patients – those with a weakened pumping ability -- may benefit from the drug, which is now in the hands of the FDA. Dr Wriel hopes it will be approved and in the hands of patients by mid-2015.



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