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Drug That Lowers Resting Heart Rate Being Tested
Date:8/22/2007

Slower heartbeat linked to better cardiac outcome, scientists report

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Can a drug designed solely to lower the resting heart rate improve treatment of cardiovascular conditions such as heart failure and coronary artery disease?

Answers to that question are expected next year from two major international trials that are testing the drug, said Dr. Jeffrey S. Borer, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

The resting heart rate is the natural heartbeat measured after someone has been at rest for at least 10 minutes. A number of studies have linked a lower resting heart rate with better outcomes among those with cardiovascular disease, said Borer, a member of a group summarizing that evidence in the Aug. 28 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"That group of authors is involved in the evaluation of a new approach to heart rate slowing," Borer said. "It allows us for the first time to determine the pure effect of heart rate slowing on cardiac health."

The new approach uses a drug called ivabradine, which acts specifically on the cells of the sino-atrial node, the heart's natural pacemaker. Other drugs, such as beta blockers, can slow the resting heart rate, but they have other effects that blur the impact of a slowed resting heart rate.

Ivabradine has been approved in Europe for treatment of the chest pain called angina, but Servier Laboratories, the French company that markets the drug, has not applied for U.S. approval because it has no American subsidiary.

A footnote to the journal paper says all of its 10 authors "have received honoraria and many have received research grants from Servier Laboratories, and all authors are a part of the advisory board of ivabradine."

But those physicians, who describe themselves as members of the Heart Rate Working Group, are in
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