New Uses for Blood Pressure Drug Approved

To improve chances for high-risk heart attack survivors

THURSDAY, Aug. 4, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved expanded use of the blood pressure medication Diovan (valsartan) to include improving certain patients' chances of surviving a heart attack, manufacturer Novartis Pharmaceuticals said Thursday.

The new indication applies only to high-risk heart attack survivors who have a condition called left ventricular dysfunction, the company said.

The FDA also broadened the drug's labeling to allow doctors to prescribe it to a wider range of heart-failure patients, Novartis said. Up to now, the drug had been officially limited to heart-failure patients who were intolerant to a class of medicines called ACE inhibitors.

The company warned that Diovan should be discontinued as soon as a woman learns she is pregnant because the drug could cause serious harm, even death, to a fetus.

To learn more about Diovan, visit the National Library of Medicine.

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