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New trials on existing medicine show potential to prevent heart failure PDF Print Email
Trial results have shown that an existing £10 a week pill for chest pains has the potential to save the lives of thousands of heart failure patients and  save the NHS milions in the cost of hospital admissions.
Conservative estimates suggest that up to 10,000 deaths a year in the UK could be prevented.
One expert described the evidence as a "significant breakthrough" and said it would compel him to change his clinical practice.
The drug, ivabradine, is already available in the UK for Angina, the pain caused by insufficient blood reaching the heart. However, only around 10% of treated angina patients are prescribed it.
At a recent meeting of experts in Stockholm trial results suggested that ivabradine could be resurrected as a cost-effective treatment for many thousands of patients with moderate to severe heart failure. The drug cut the risk of death from heart failure by 26% in the patient population studied over a two year period. It had a similar impact on the likelihood of being admitted to hospital because of worsening symptoms.
More than 700,000 people over the age of 45 live with heart failure, which occurs when damage to the heart leaves it too weak to pump blood efficiently round the body.
An estimated 68,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Heart failure causes symptoms of fatigue, breathlessness, increased heart rate, and swollen ankles. It can lead to serious complications, and around 40% of those affected are dead after a year.
Heart failure soaks up 1% to 2% of the total NHS budget, with direct medical costs alone amounting to £625 million a year.
The Shift (Systolic Heart failure treatment with the If inhibitor ivabradine Trial) trial involved more than 6,500 patients in 37 countries already on standard treatments such as beta-blocker drugs.