Heart Failure Treatments Offer New Hope
WebMD News Archive
"Beta-blockers are not being used enough in the treatment
of heart failure patients," says Pinski, who wrote an editorial
accompanying the two studies. "It has become clear that almost every
patient with systolic dysfunction or heart failure should be on a
beta-blocker." Pinski is head of cardiac pacing in the cardiology
department of Cleveland Clinic Florida.
In the other JAMA study, researchers from Baltimore's
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions reported that implantation of a specialized
pacemaker reduced deaths by half and reduced hospitalization by a third among
1,634 heart failure patients.
Lead researcher David J. Bradley, MD, PhD, and colleagues
reviewed four clinical trials comparing patients with heart failure who got the
special pacemakers with those who did not get them. Patients who received the
pacemaker therapy, known as cardiac resynchronization, had improved heart
function, improved exercise capacity, and improved quality of life. At three to
six months follow-up, 1.7% of the pacemaker patients had died compared with
3.5% of those without pacemakers. Heart failure-related hospitalizations were
also reduced by 29% among pacemaker patients.
Bradley tells WebMD that pacemakers represent a promising
treatment option for patients who have had few options in the past. The devices
may also allow patients to tolerate larger doses of beta-blocker drugs.
"Beta-blockers tend to slow the heart down, but the
pacemakers prevent that from happening," he says. "Right now we don't
know just how big an impact there will be for patients treated with both of
these therapies, but it is very exciting."