Interesting developments on Ivabradine

This article talks about Ivabradine which slows the heart beat down without effecting the blood pressure which is great news for people who cant take beta blockers.

The drug, ivabradine, is already available in the UK to treat angina.

The trial involved more than 6,500 people in 37 countries who already used standard treatments such as beta-blocker drugs.

Over a typical study period of two years, ivabradine cut the risk of death from heart failure by 26%.

It had a similar impact on the likelihood of patients being admitted to hospital.

“It is vital that the results of this study are implemented and ivabradine is used as part of standard heart failure treatment as soon as possible” said Professor Martin Cowie at the European Society of Cardiology annual event in Stockholm.

More than 700,000 people over the age of 45 are thought to live with heart failure, which occurs when damage to the heart leaves it too weak to pump blood efficiently round the body.

Heart failure uses up 1% to 2% of the total NHS budget and direct medical costs alone amounting to £625m each year.

Unlike other treatments, such as beta-blockers, ivabradine lowers the number of heartbeats per minute without also reducing blood pressure.

Prof Cowie, a consultant cardiologist at London’s Royal Brompton Hospital, said estimates that 10,000 deaths could be prevented in the UK by prescribing the drug to eligible patients were conservative.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that in the UK one in four people could develop heart failure in some point in their lives and so this drug could help thousands.

The drug worked by slowing the pulse down so that it helped to take some of the strain off the heart, he said.

“For people who have heart failure, their heart is always going too fast. Even when they are sitting doing nothing, their heart rate might be going along at 80 or 90 beats per minute and this drug helps slow that down,” he added.

“In the past we have been able to do that with drugs called beta blockers… but many patients can’t take beta blockers because they have asthma or it drops their blood pressure.

“This drug has the advantage that it can be added to beta blockers or it can be given to people who can’t take them.

“It slows the pulse rate without dropping the blood pressure or affecting any asthma so it’s a very exciting new option for doctors and patients to think about if they have heart failure.”

He stressed the drug was not suitable for everybody, but only those who already had a serious heart condition.

Earlier, he said: “The evidence represents a significant clinical breakthrough in the management of heart failure and is incredibly important information for patients with this condition.”

“It is vital that the results of this study are implemented and ivabradine is used as part of standard heart failure treatment as soon as possible.”

Although ivabradine is already available in the UK for angina – the pain caused by insufficient blood reaching the heart – it is only prescribed to about 10% of patients with the condition.

The dissapointing point is that it will take 2-3 years for NICE to approve it for Heart Failure even though it is being used for agina currently.