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Viagra, Aliskiren Not Helpful for Heart Failure After All: Studies
Date:3/11/2013

MONDAY, March 11 (HealthDay News) -- Although small studies have suggested Viagra and the blood pressure medication aliskiren could be wonder drugs against heart failure, neither drug produced any beneficial effects against this condition in recent multicenter trials.

Viagra (sildenafil) is used to treat erectile dysfunction and some forms of pulmonary arterial hypertension, and scientists hoped it would help patients with so-called diastolic heart failure -- a type of heart failure in which the heart's lower chambers stiffen and cannot fully relax and fill between beats.

"The results of our study were surprising and disappointing," said the Viagra study lead author, Dr. Margaret Redfield, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

"We were hoping to find something that would help these patients, as there are currently few options for treatment," Redfield said.

Meanwhile, aliskiren (Tekturna) failed to reduce rates of death and hospitalizations among patients with heart failure. Researchers noted any benefits of the drug were offset by its side effects, including higher rates of hyperkalemia (overly high potassium levels), worsening kidney function and hypotension (abnormally low blood pressure).

Both studies were scheduled to be presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in San Francisco. They were also published online simultaneously in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In the Viagra study, patients with diastolic heart failure were enrolled in nine primary centers and 16 associated centers that make up the Heart Failure Clinical Research Network. The patients involved in the study were severely limited in their ability to exercise and had significant abnormalities in the structure and function of their hearts.

The patients were treated with Viagra for 24 weeks. Researchers examined how far the patients could wa
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