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Study finds treatment fails to improve common form of heart failure
Date:12/4/2008

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. A medication used for high blood pressure does not improve a common form of heart failure, according to new results from a large, international study.

The study, which included researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in key leadership positions, appears in this week's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, published today.

The findings are disappointing to researchers, who continue to study other medications in search of a successful treatment for the condition, which predominantly affects older individuals, particularly women.

"Heart failure is the only cardiovascular disease on the rise," said Dalane Kitzman, M.D., a cardiologist and professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist, principal investigator for the Wake Forest Baptist trial site and the national coordinator for the study. "And this newer form of the disease is increasing fastest of all. That's what makes it disconcerting that we don't have a proven effective treatment. We sort of have to go back to the drawing board."

Doctors long believed that most heart failure was caused by a weakening of the heart muscle that kept it from pumping enough blood out to the body (systolic heart failure). In recent years, however, they have recognized a second and more common form of the disorder in which the heart can empty normally, but does not fill with enough blood (diastolic heart failure). The result is the same the body does not get enough oxygen-rich blood for its needs. The most common symptom is shortness of breath. Other symptoms include fatigue, swelling around the ankles and high blood pressure.

Few drugs have been tested as treatment strategies in randomized studies of patients with diastolic heart failure largely because the condition wasn't recognized as a separate form of heart failure until the past decade. To date, no effective treatments have been found.


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Contact: Jessica Guenzel
jguenzel@wfubmc.edu
336-716-3487
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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