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New Treatment for Heart Failure

Blood pressure drug assumes dual role

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 23, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the AstraZeneca blood pressure drug Atacand to reduce the risk of death and hospitalization from heart failure.

The drug belongs to a class of medications called angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB). In a study of 2,028 heart failure patients who were intolerant to a separate class of medicines called ACE inhibitors, Atacand lowered patients' risk of death or hospitalization by 23 percent, the company said in a statement.

Heart failure, caused when the heart becomes unable to effectively pump blood to the rest of the body, affects nearly 5 million Americans and contributes to some 300,000 deaths annually, AstraZeneca said, citing the American Heart Association. More than half a million new cases are diagnosed each year, and the condition is responsible for more than 3.5 million hospitalizations annually, the company added.

Atacand can harm a developing fetus and should not be used by women as soon as they discover they are pregnant, AstraZeneca said.

To learn more about heart failure, check the FDA's Heart Health Online.

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