Even Placebo Pills Can Help Heart-Failure Patients

Survival rates were higher if pill regimen was followed, study finds

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TUESDAY, Nov. 9, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Heart-failure patients have a better chance of survival if they're conscientious about taking their pills, even if those pills are placebos, says a Duke University Medical Center study.

The researchers said their findings can't be fully explained, but don't appear to be a statistical quirk.

They analyzed international data on 7,599 heart-failure patients and found that similar lower death rates were associated with good adherence when taking a placebo or an angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB), a drug that relaxes and dilates blood vessels.

Lower hospitalization rates were also associated with good adherence when taking both a placebo and an active drug, the study found.

"Adherence to medications is one of the most important predictors of clinical outcomes for patients with complex diseases like heart failure," researcher Bradi Granger said in a prepared statement.

"Our findings that adherence to placebo was an important and independent predictor of better outcomes suggests that adherence itself is a marker for other unmeasured variables that can determine outcome. Understanding these factors may provide an opportunity for novel interactions, including those targeted at improved adherence," Granger said.

The study was presented Tuesday at the American Heart Association's scientific sessions in New Orleans.

More Information

The Cleveland Clinic Foundation has more about heart failure.

SOURCE: Duke University Medical Center, news release, Nov. 9, 2004

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