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Pepcid May Help Treat Heart Failure

It's Too Soon to Know for Sure; No Recommendations Yet for Patients
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 25, 2006 -- Pepcid, a common heartburn medicine, may help treat heart failure, a new study shows.

The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, comes from Japan.

Pepcid blocks histamine H2 receptors found in the stomach.

Those receptors are also found in the heart, prompting the researchers to ask whether blocking those receptors with Pepcid might help counter heart failure.

But a journal editorial cautions against using Pepcid as a heart failure treatment just yet.

The study's findings are "interesting" but they have to be checked, write the editorialists.

Meanwhile, "no one is recommending [Pepcid] or any other histamine receptor blockers to treat patients with heart failure based simply on the existing information," the editorialists state.

Heart Failure, Heartburn Study

The researchers who conducted the study include Jiyoong Kim, MD, of the National Cardiovascular Center in Suita, Japan.

Kim's team studied 50 people -- 32 men and 18 women -- with congestive heart failure and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

The patients were 65 years old, on average. The researchers randomly split them into two groups.

One group took a generic form of Pepcid for 24 weeks. For comparison, the others took teprenone, a different type of heartburn drug used in Japan.

Patients were free to keep taking their usual doses of other drugs.

During the study, heart failure symptoms eased somewhat in patients taking Pepcid. It also showed improved markers of heart failure progression. Teprenone didn't appear to affect heart failure for better or worse, the researchers report.

Patients taking Pepcid were also less likely to be hospitalized for worsening heart failure during the study.

More Work Needed

Kim's team isn't advising anyone to start taking Pepcid for heart failure. But the findings deserve further study, the researchers note.

Editorialists Gary Francis, MD, FACC, and W. H. Wilson Tang, MD, FACC, agree. They are cardiologists at The Cleveland Clinic.

"Clearly, this interesting concept is very early in its development, and additional data regarding its efficacy and safety are required," write Francis and Tang.

"However, we need some new and imaginative thinking in this arena, and perhaps this article will serve to provide that," the editorialists add.

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