New heart failure drug lowers death by 20 percent

By , on September 2, 2014

Shutterstock Photo
Shutterstock Photo

MANILA — Study showed a new drug for heart failure could help reduce the number of deaths from the disease by as much as 20 percent. This is the first drug in two decades to show a significant survival rate for patients, according to one of the top cardiologists in B.C.

Dr. Andew Ignaszewski, head of cardiology at St. Paul’s Hospital, presented the findings at the European Society of Cardiology.

According to Ignaszweski, the results of the findings may be considered a great leap into the future of heart failure treatment. The drug, called LCZ696, passed the trials after the scientists discovered that it saved more lives that enalapril – the current gold standard treatment in heart failure. The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“For the past decade all the trials that were designed to test new medication have failed. And finally this year we have a new drug,” he said in an interview. “The drug wasn’t compared to a placebo, it was compared to the best drug we have right now and it beat out that drug. Very few of us ever believed there would be a treatment that would be better than enalapril and this new one did,” Ignaszweski added.

Based from the trials, the drug showed positive results in reducing death by 20 percent, or one in five patients with the diseases, according to Ignaszweski. During the two-year trial, patients who received LCZ696 as treatment were more likely to remain in healthy condition. Aside from this, re-hospitalization was also considerably lesser compared to those who were in enalapril.

“That’s a huge improvement over what we have had so far,” said Ignaszweski referring to the improvement in the quality of life for patients who were part of the trial.

Heart failure is an incapacitating life-threatening disease. This happens when the heart cannot pump enough blood around the body. Symptoms of this disease include fatigue, breathlessness, and fluid retention. Said symptoms usually worsen over time.

Almost 100,000 British Columbians suffer from this condition. Moreover, more than half a million Canadians are also diagnosed with this. According to Ignaszweski, heart failure contributes to nine percent of deaths in Canada.

The efficacy of LCZ696 is still under investigation. Based from Ignaszweski’s calculations, the drug may be accessible in 18 months.

“It’s a well-tolerated medication and it’s given twice a day, so I sure hope this is not going to be too expensive,” he said.