Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Failure Health Center

Font Size

Pill Cuts Risk of Death in Heart Failure Patients

Procoralan Also Reduced Hospital Stays for Patients With Severe Heart Failure
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Aug. 30, 2010 (Stockholm) -- A pill that slows the heart rate substantially cut the risk of death and hospital stays for patients with severe heart failure, a study of more than 6,500 patients shows.

The drug is called Procoralan. It's already used in Europe to treat the severe chest pain of angina, although it’s not approved in the U.S.

The new study suggests "we should look seriously at this drug in heart failure patients as well," says American Heart Association spokeswoman Mariell Jessup, MD, medical director of the Penn Heart and Vascular Center at the University of Pennsylvania. She was not involved with the work.

The results were presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress (ESC) and simultaneously published online in the journal The Lancet.

Procoralan Slows Heart Rate in Heart Failure Patients

One major cause of heart failure occurs when the heart muscle becomes scarred and loses its ability to pump enough blood throughout the body, often after a massive heart attack.

About 50% of patients die within four years of diagnosis, and about 25% are rehospitalized within three months of their first hospital stay.

Recent research shows that elevated heart rates are associated with poor prognoses, says researcher Michel Komajda, head of the cardiovascular and surgical departments at the Pitie Salpetriere Hospital in Paris.

"So we hypothesized that reducing the heart rate with a novel agent, [Procoralan], would improve the prognosis above what is obtained with best clinical practice," he tells WebMD.

Which is just what happened. After nearly two years of treatment, patients given Procoralan were 18% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease or to be hospitalized for worsening heart failure, compared with patients given placebo.

Specifically, 24% of patients in the Procoralan group were hospitalized or died vs. 29% of patients given placebo, Komajda says.

The benefit was driven mainly by a reduction in hospitalizations for heart failure, he says.

Procoralan Produces Benefits in 3 Months

The study involved people with severe heart failure, whose hearts had serious trouble pumping and who had a heart rate of 70 beats per minute or more at rest -- a rate associated with a particularly poor prognosis, Jessup says.

Today on WebMD

Compressed heart
Salt Shockers
Inside A Heart Attack
lowering blood pressure

Mechanical Heart
Omega 3 Overview Slideshow
Atrial Fibrillation Guide
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol

Compressed heart
FAQ Heart Failure
Cholesterol Confusion
Health Check
Resolved To Quit Smoking