Medication Shows Promise for Treating Severe Heart Failure
The findings add to previously reported favorable effects of carvedilol in patients with mild and moderate degrees of heart failure. Additionally, two other drugs in the beta-blocker class, metoprolol and bisoprolol, have been shown to reduce the risk of premature death in patients with mild and moderate heart failure.
However, Packer cautions against assuming that the COPERNICUS results apply to all beta-blocker medications. Even so, he adds, the favorable results obtained with metoprolol and bisoprolol give physicians at least three choices among beta-blockers for treatment of mild and moderate heart failure.
The findings from COPERNICUS should encourage physicians to prescribe beta-blockers more often in the treatment of heart failure, says Packer. Prior to COPERNICUS, heart failure authorities estimated that 75-80% of heart failure patients should be receiving a beta-blocker, but available data suggest that no more than 10-20% of heart failure patients are actually prescribed one of these medications.
"We hope the results of COPERNICUS will not only apply to severe heart failure but will get physicians to bring up the overall percentage of beta-blocker use from where it is now to where it should be," he says.