Most patients with congestive heart failure respond to standard treatments, which include diuretics, ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers. However, nearly 30 percent of these patients return to the hospital within two months, and some of the medications can cause serious side effects such as electrolyte abnormalities and worsening kidney function. Researchers say a new drug Tolvaptan may be more effective than existing medications for treating patients with congestive heart failure.
Patients are usually hospitalized because of fluid retention, which occurs when the body overcompensates for a weak heart. When the heart struggles to beat efficiently, the brain produces a hormone called vasopressin, which constricts blood vessels and causes fluid retention. Researchers studied Tolvaptan -- a drug that targets vasopressin -- to determine if it effectively reduces fluid retention.
More than 300 patients with severe heart failure participated in the study. Researchers divided the participants into four groups and followed them for seven weeks. Patients received either 30 milligrams, 60 milligrams or 90 milligrams of Tolvaptan or a placebo in addition to standard medications. Results of the study showed patients who took Tolvaptan weighed less within 24 hours, indicating a decrease in fluid retention. The mortality rate was also lower for those in the Tolvaptan group. Researchers say there were no changes in worsening heart failure between the groups at 60 days.
Based on the results of the above study researchers conclude saying that they now have an agent that appears promising and safe.