Cardio Deaths Preventable

Heart Failure Patients Could Have Been Saved with New Treatment

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of Americans, but perhaps thousands of those deaths could be prevented every year with the greater implementation of medications as simple as beta blockers and cardiac devices such as implantable cardioverter-defibrillators.

A recent study published in the June edition of the American Heart Journal found that almost 68,000 deaths potentially could be avoided each year by following key national guidelines for eligible heart failure patients.

"Check with your doctor to see if national guidelines are followed."

Study author Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, UCLA's Elliot Corday professor of cardiovascular medicine and science and director of the Ahmanson–UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said the use of scientifically proven treatments that could reduce deaths and improve quality of life for patients has been slow and inconsistent.

The study was aimed at discovering the benefits of consistent use of various heart therapies including medications and cardiac devices, and to understand the advantage of using those therapies with more consistency.

Heart failure happens when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to the body's other organs. Often when this occurs patients may have reduced left-ventricle ejection fraction, indicative of a lowered amount of blood being pumped out of that heart chamber with each heartbeat.

Researchers studied six therapies for heart patients with reduced left-ventricle ejection fraction. All of those treatments were highly recommended in the national guidelines of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association for heart failure patients.

Investigators used clinical trial results, in-patient and out-patient registries for heart failure patients, and heart failure quality-of-care studies in cardiology and general clinical practice settings. For each type of heart failure therapy, researchers examined patient eligibility criteria, estimated the frequency of use, identified fatality rates and calculated mortality risk–reduction statistics due to treatment.

They discovered that out of 2.6 million heart failure patients with reduced left-ventricular ejection fraction, many were eligible for treatments that they did not receive. Researchers calculated that 67,996 patients could have been saved if those therapies had been used.

Many of those could have been aided with heart failure medication. According to the study calculations, 21,407 could have been saved if they had received aldosterone antagonists, 12,922 with beta blockers, 6,516 with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers and 6,655 with hydralazine/isosorbide dinitrate.

An additional 8,317 could have potentially been saved with cardiac resynchronization therapy and 12,179 could have been helped with implantable cardioverter-defibrillators.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 7, 2011
Last Updated:
June 10, 2011