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Older patients with 1 type of heart failure may receive little or no benefit from drugs
Date:3/12/2009

LOS ANGELES (EMBARGOED UNTIL: 9 a.m. EST, March 12, 2009) People over 80 years of age suffering from a certain type of heart failure do not appear to benefit from most commonly prescribed heart medications, according to a study conducted at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and published in the March 15 issue of The American Journal of Cardiology.

"The American population continues to live longer lives, often surviving with heart failure and other chronic conditions, but patients in this age range are typically excluded from medical research. Our review of 142 patient cases found that medications had little if any beneficial effect on five-year survival or rehospitalization for heart problems among elderly patients who have heart failure but an ejection fraction of at least 50 percent," said Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute cardiologist Ernst R. Schwarz, M.D., Ph.D., the article's senior author.

Ejection fraction is a measure of the pumping capacity of the left ventricle, the main pumping chamber of the heart. Heart failure with "preserved ejection fraction" a prevalent condition in the geriatric population is characterized by the heart contracting well but failing to relax, which prevents the chamber from properly filling with blood. Often termed "diastolic heart failure," this type of heart failure is more prominent than other forms among the elderly, women, and obese people but, like other types of heart failure, it typically has a poor prognosis and a very high mortality rate.

The authors noted that while the study found no proven benefit for drug therapy in this group of patients, cardiovascular medications are often prescribed, at both financial and physiologic cost. They urge special caution in prescribing digoxin and diuretics medications that are often used to treat congestive heart failure and other cardiac conditions because the study showed a trend toward increased mortality.

The average age of patients in
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Contact: Sally Stewart
sally.stewart@cshs.org
310-248-6566
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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