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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Northwestern: New Heart Failure Drug Shows Little Benefit

A new study published in JAMA found an experimental drug did not improve exercise capacity among patients suffering from heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, a common form of heart failure.

Dr. Sanjiv Shah, the Neil J. Stone, MD, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology at Northwestern and lead author of the study, said that while neladenoson bialanate may be useful for treating other cardiovascular conditions, the results of this study underlined the need for further research into heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF).

Heart failure is a large public health burden in the United States: At least six million people nationwide have been diagnosed with the condition.

About half of cases are classified as reduced ejection fraction, meaning the heart is weak and unable to pump blood effectively. According to Dr. Shah, this type of heart failure is caused by direct damage to the heart, such as a heart attack, and is easily diagnosable and familiar to clinicians.

On the other hand, a heart with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) is pumping normally but the muscle is abnormally stiff, preventing the heart from filling properly. This type of heart failure is more difficult to diagnose using ultrasound, the usual method of diagnosing heart failure.

The proximate cause is less clear, but cardiovascular risk factors like aging, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, diabetes and high blood pressure appear to have an impact.

“We now understand that HFpEF is really a systemic syndrome,” Dr. Shah said. “There’s something going on in the bloodstream that then secondarily makes the heart muscle and other organs sick.”

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