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    A Better Beta Blocker for Heart Failure

    Patients Live Longer Taking Coreg Than Lopressor in First Head-to-Head Comparison
    By
    WebMD Health News

    July 3, 2003 -- Coreg improves survival in heart failure patients better than another widely used drug. The first study comparing the two beta-blocking drugs assessed future outcome in heart-failure patients.

    The Carvedilol or Metroprolol European Trial (COMET) involved more than 3,000 patients in 15 countries, with varying degrees of chronic heart failure -- making it the largest study ever done on either drug. Carvedilol is known as Coreg; metroprolol as Lopressor.

    Half of the patients were given Coreg and the other half received Lopressor. They were followed for nearly five years, and didn't know which medication they got.

    Considerably Longer Life

    By study's end, 34% of Coreg patients had died, compared with 40% of those taking Lopressor -- that's a 17% lower death rate in patients on Coreg. Researchers estimate the average survival was 1.4 years longer in the Coreg group.

    The improvement in life expectancy is considerable because this condition has a high death rate despite treatment, writes Henry J. Dargie, in an editorial that accompanies the study in this week's The Lancet.

    "It's a fairly clear and definitive result: Carvedilol, in this trial, has been shown to be very much better than metroprolol," lead researcher Philip Poole-Wilson, MD, FRCP, tells WebMD.

    Beta-blocker drugs are often used to treat heart failure -- which affects nearly 5 million Americans -- because they slow heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and ease the flow of blood from the heart to the rest of the body. These drugs also are used for high blood pressure, angina, and other cardiovascular problems. They work by blocking "beta" receptors that send chemical messengers to increase heart rate.

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