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A Better Beta Blocker for Heart Failure

Patients Live Longer Taking Coreg Than Lopressor in First Head-to-Head Comparison

'This Is Really Remarkable' continued...

The two drugs compared in COMET were "apples and apples," adds Milton Packer, MD, director of the Center for Heart Failure Research and chief of the division of circulatory physiology at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York.

"There aren't too many times when physicians and patients are given an opportunity to see a direct head-to-head comparison of two effective drugs, especially on an outcome as important as mortality," he tells WebMD. "This is really remarkable."

So why did Coreg seem so much better? Probably because it does more to help patients with heart failure.

While both Lopressor and Toprol XL block only beta 1 receptor cells, Coreg also blocks beta 2 and other receptor cells -- and also has antioxidative properties and additional effects not found in Lopressor, says Packer.

"Now which one of these additional properties, if any, is responsible for the difference, this trial couldn't determine. But clearly, what this trial shows is that one or more of these additional properties does matter for survival."

Packer is no stranger to the powers of Coreg. He was lead researcher of the COPERNICUS (Carvedilol Prospective Randomized Cumulative Survival) study three years ago that found patients with severe heart failure had a 35% lower risk of dying from their illness when treated with Coreg compared with those who didn't get the drug. In fact, Coreg proved so effective that the study was stopped a year before its expected completion date.

"It had such a striking effect," Packer says. "We calculated it would save one life of every 15 patients treated."

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