In a new study from the University of Manchester, researchers found a drug currently used to treat lung fibrosis may also help patients who suffer from a common form of heart failure.
They found the drug pirfenidone could offer a much-needed viable treatment for heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF).
Heart failure means that the heart is no longer able to pump blood around the body properly, causing shortness of breath, swelling and extreme fatigue.
Around a million people in the UK live with heart failure, and many more are at risk of developing it.
Just under a third of 55-year-olds will develop heart failure, and 2 to 3 of every 10 people diagnosed die within a year.
In about half of patients with heart failure, the forward pumping function of the heart is normal. This is called heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, or HFpEF.
While a number of processes lead to heart failure, scarring—or fibrosis—of the heart muscle is thought to be an important mechanism in around half to two-thirds of patients with HFpEF and is associated with adverse outcomes.
In the study, the team enrolled patients with heart failure, normal forward pumping function of the heart and evidence of fluid retention.
94 Eligible patients had cardiac MRI scanning, and those who had evidence of heart scarring, as indicated by a measurement called ‘extracellular volume’, were assigned to take pirfenidone or a placebo daily.
At one year, patients underwent a second cardiac MRI to measure the change in heart scarring.
The team found the extracellular volume declined by 1.21% on average in patients who took pirfenidone compared with those receiving placebo.
This amount of reduction in heart scarring could translate into a substantial reduction in rates of death and admission to hospital for heart failure, the team says.
Fluid retention, measured using a blood test called NT-proBNP, also improved in patients taking pirfenidone compared to those receiving placebo.
The associated improvement in fluid retention provides support for heart scarring having a causal role in heart failure and being an effective treatment target.
The most common side effects were nausea, insomnia and rash, which are similar to that which lung patients can experience when taking Pirfenidone.
If you care about heart failure, please read studies about this blood pressure drug may increase heart failure risk and findings of drinking this beverage too much may lead to heart failure.
The study is published in Nature Medicine. One author of the study is Dr. Chris Miller.
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