In all cases, the study found that Viagra failed to benefit patients with heart failure. The study authors concluded diastolic heart failure is different from other forms of heart failure and this category of drug is not effective against the condition. They also recommended that doctors who are prescribing this high-cost drug for their heart failure patients based on preliminary research should discontinue this practice.
The researchers noted, however, more studies are needed to investigate if Viagra could help treat patients with diastolic heart failure who also suffer from high blood pressure, right ventricular dysfunction and pulmonary arterial hypertension (high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs).
"Given these results, future studies should be done with this subset of patients," Redfield said in a news release.
The aliskiren study, sponsored by Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, involved 1,615 patients with heart failure admitted to 316 hospitals. In addition to standard treatment, the patients were randomly assigned to receive aliskiren or an inactive placebo as part of their treatment for heart failure.
After six months, the researchers found the patients on the drug had the same odds for death or readmission to the hospital for heart failure as the placebo group.
The study authors noted that aliskiren did cause a significant drop in a hormone that increases as heart failure advances. This reduction, however, did not affect death rates or hospitalization.
Heart failure is the number one cause of hospitalization for people older than 65, costing Medicare billions each year.
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