(RxWiki News) Several simple steps such as better heart education and taking blood pressure medication could help heart failure patients improve their chances of survival over the next two years.
Heart failure patients can substantially improve their longevity by using at least four of five treatments suggested by the American Heart Association.
"Take prescribed blood pressure medication daily."
Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, a cardiologist from the University of California Los Angeles and the study's lead author, initiated the study because the incremental clinical effectiveness of treatments designed to lower the number of patients dying from heart failure had not been well studied.
During the study investigators analyzed data from 1376 cases and 2752 matched controls from the large prospective study IMPROVE HF to determine how much each therapy contributes to the survival of heart failure patients over a two year period.
They found that combining the guideline-recommended therapies improved survival for heart failure patients by 81 percent to 90 percent.
The two therapies that provided the biggest boost to living longer were taking beta blockers to treat high blood pressure, and cardiac resynchronization therapy, a treatment that involves use of a specialized pacemaker to coordinate pumping between the heart's four chambers.
Other life-extending therapies included taking angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, better known as ACE inhibitors to control hypertension, or taking blood thinners such as aspirin or Plavix. Other measures shown to improve survival included implantable cardioverter/defibrillators to control heart arrhythmias, and heart failure education.
Investigators found that taking aldosterone antagonists, a diuretic used to control blood pressure, did not increase survival. They plan to further investigate why that is the case.
The study was recently published in Journal of the American Heart Association: Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Disease.