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Heart Failure Drug Extends Lives

It's also relatively inexpensive, large study finds

MONDAY, Feb. 21, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- A blood-pressure medication called eplerenon can help extend the lives of people who develop congestive heart failure after suffering a heart attack.

That's what researchers report in the Feb. 22 issue of Circulation.

After a heart attack, about 22 percent of men and 46 percent of women develop heart failure -- the inability of the heart to pump enough blood. Such patients have double the risk of dying or suffering another heart attack within the following 30 days.

A randomized, worldwide study of more than 6,600 patients found those treated with eplerenon suffered fewer deaths and less hospitalization from cardiovascular problems.

The drug helps fight heart attack by targeting aldosterone, a hormone important to blood vessel constriction.

Eplerenone also cost less than $100 a month, and researchers found the significant increase in survival rate came at an average per-patient cost of $1,391 over a 16-month period.

"This is a reasonable drug to add to all the other therapies when heart failure develops following a heart attack," said study author Dr. William S. Weintraub, a professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine.

The study was funded by the drug's maker, Pfizer Inc.

More information

For more on heart failure, go to the National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: American Heart Association, news release, Feb. 21, 2005
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