Existing drug may extend life with congestive heart failure

"This FDA-approved drug has the potential to improve the quality and extend the life in properly identified heart failure patients." (Credit: Getty Images)

Preclinical studies show that a common blood pressure medication called Aliskiren can prevent fluid retention and muscle wasting in patients with congestive heart failure.

Aliskiren inhibits the enzyme that regulates blood pressure, can delay the progression of congestive heart failure, and lengthen survival rates, report the researchers.

More than 5 million Americans live with congestive heart failure, a chronic progressive condition that occurs when the heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should.

“This FDA-approved drug has the potential to improve the quality and extend the life in properly identified heart failure patients,” says Ryan Sullivan, assistant professor in the internal medicine department of the University of Arizona College of Medicine–Phoenix. Sullivan is lead author of the study in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

“That’s an extra 5.6 years with loved ones that otherwise would not be possible. Obviously, further studies are needed, along with human clinical trials, but we are excited about our research direction…

“Heart failure is a rapidly increasing cause of disability and death,” Sullivan says. “Patients suffer from progressive muscle wasting and fluid retention, which leads to discomfort, shortness of breath, and fatigue. There is a need to better measure muscle wasting and fluid retention to identify effective methods for treatment and prevention. These exciting findings demonstrate new approaches that may guide future care for heart failure patients.”

Edema and muscle wasting occur during the progression of heart failure and neither is always clinically evident.

One of the major challenges in heart failure management is detecting and reproducibly quantifying edema and muscle mass over time in response to interventions that treat breathlessness, clinical symptoms of heart failure, and cardiac cachexia, which is unintentional severe weight loss associated with heart failure.

The team used a technique called QMR, or quantitative magnetic resonance, to objectively measure edema development longitudinally throughout the disease progression. In addition, the device captured changes in body fat and lean muscle mass, which are associated with poor prognosis in heart failure patients.

This technology has potential uses in monitoring and adjusting individual treatment protocols as part of a precision medicine approach.

The National Institutes of Health supported the work. Patents related to this study have been filed by the authors, along with the university’s Tech Launch Arizona.

Source: Teresa Joseph for University of Arizona