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Experimental Drug Controls Cardiac Patients' Blood Pressure

Another study finds a quick way to spot cause of shortness of breath

TUESDAY, March 27, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- The investigational antihypertensive drug clevidipine may control blood pressure for heart surgery patients better than standard treatments, new research shows.

In three separate studies, researchers compared clevidipine (an intravenous dihydropyridine calcium channel blocker) to each of the three standard treatments (nitroglycerin, sodium nitroprusside or nicardipine).

Two of the studies found that clevidipine offered better blood pressure control than both nitroglycerin and nitroprusside, and about the same level of control as nicardipine. Safety outcomes were similar for all the medications.

The research was expected to be presented Tuesday at the American College of Cardiology's annual scientific session, in New Orleans.

"More research is needed to confirm the benefits of clevidipine, but these initial results against three very commonly used therapies demonstrate a new, potentially valuable alternative, which is very encouraging," study lead author Dr. Solomon Aronson, of Duke University Medical Center, said in a prepared statement. "With a better understanding of how to effectively control blood pressure during cardiac surgery, we believe we can significantly improve the outcomes of these operations, all while ensuring patient safety."

In another study to be presented Tuesday, researchers found that measuring a certain blood protein -- Plasma Pro-B-Type Natriuretic Peptide (pro-BNP) -- can help doctors determine whether shortness of breath is related to trouble with the heart or the lung.

The Danish study of 3,000 patients found that people with shortness of breath had significantly higher levels of pro-BNP than healthy people. The study also found that heart conditions were associated with a 2.6-fold increase in pro-BNP levels in people with shortness of breath, compared to people without heart conditions. Lung (pulmonary) problems were not associated with an increase in pro-BNP levels.

"Prior research has demonstrated the benefit of measuring pro-BNP to distinguish cardiac versus pulmonary dyspnea [shortness of breath] in the emergency room setting, but ours is the first to successfully assess the source of dyspnea among the general population based on pro-BNP," study lead author Dr. Rasmus Mogelvang, of the University of Copenhagen, said in a prepared statement.

"Given the importance of understanding which type of dyspnea is present, our hope is that measuring pro-BNP will be used frequently as a screening tool in both emergency and non-emergency settings to help doctors evaluate their patients' likelihood of heart disease and treat accordingly," Mogelvang said.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about shortness of breath.

SOURCE: American College of Cardiology, news release, March 27, 2007
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