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Mar 27, 2013

No Benefit Found From Blood Pressure Drug in Heart Failure Patients

According to researchers, the blood pressure-lowering drug aliskiren had no positive effect on people with heart failure.

Despite hopes that heart failure patients could benefit from a blood pressure-lowering drug called aliskiren (Tekturna), no positive effects were found, according to research presented recently at the American College of Cardiology’s 62nd Annual Scientific Session.

This study, referred to as the ASTRONAUT trial (Aliskiren Trial on Acute Heart Failure Outcomes), was conducted across 316 hospitals and involved more than 1,600 patients with heart failure. Because heart failure is a chronic condition, it’s the leading cause of hospitalizations for people over 65 and costs Medicare billions of dollars each year. In fact, it’s estimated that roughly one-third of patients hospitalized for heart failure are readmitted within a few months. Researchers had hoped that supplementing standard heart failure therapies with aliskiren could keep patients healthier, reducing risk of death and lowering hospitalization rates. Not only would such benefits improve outcomes for patients, it would also help save a substantial amount of money for both patients and providers.

Unfortunately, after six months, researchers found that patients taking standard therapies plus aliskiren versus standard therapies alone had similar risk of hospitalizations and death. Worse, patients taking aliskiren actually had higher rates of complications, including abnormally low blood pressure and worsening kidney function.

Researchers hope that with further studies, it may be possible that aliskiren could be beneficial to some patients. Although researchers were disappointed with the overall findings, there were a few details that deserve further investigation. For example, patients without diabetes did benefit from the drug, so it’s possible that aliskiren may be effective for certain patients. In the meantime, standard heart failure therapies will stay the same until we learn more about the impact of blood pressure-lowering drugs in heart failure patients.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What is standard treatment for heart failure?
  • Heart failure is usually treated with a combination of medications, such as ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers, digoxin, beta blockers, diuretics and aldosterone antagonists. In some cases, patients may need to undergo surgery or procedures to treat underlying problems causing heart failure.

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