New Treatment for Heart Failure

Blood pressure drug assumes dual role

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

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

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

Atacand can harm a developing fetus and should not be used by womenas 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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