Congestive Heart Failure Treatments Research

Prolonging life is the major goal of heart medication research. Until a cure is found for congestive heart failure, efforts to strengthen heart contractions, rid the body of excess fluid, and decrease the heart’s workload by reducing elevated blood pressure are the main strategies of treatment.

The following medications are currently under study in clinical trials and may prove beneficial in advancing the treatment of congestive heart failure.

Levosimendan

Levosimendan is a new type of drug that acts as a “calcium sensitizer” to improve the heart muscle’s contraction strength. Current trials are testing an intravenous form that could be used in hospitals to treat acute heart failure. Recently published results reveal that levosimendan is superior to dobutamine, the drug typically used to treat acute heart failure, in its ability to increase cardiac output and decrease mortality.

Nesiritide

Nesiritide is known as a “natriuretic” drug, which means that it is designed to cause the elimination of sodium in the urine. This means that it essentially functions as a diuretic, getting rid of both sodium and water in the urine. Results to date have not shown that it is performing better than the traditional diuretics used for CHF.

Oxypurinol

Oxypurinol is a xanthine oxidase inhibitor (XOI), similar to allopurinol, a drug used in the treatment of gout. Preliminary studies indicate that oxypurinol increases cardiac function as it enhances the strength of the heart muscle’s contractions.

Autologous Skeletal Myoblasts

Autologous skeletal myoblasts are muscle cells injected into the heart in an attempt to strengthen it. The procedure is under study in clinical trials to test its safety and effectiveness. Researchers are also considering the injection of other types of cells such as bone marrow stem cells.

BiDil

BiDil is a combination of hydralazine and isosorbide, a nitrate. Early studies reveal that this drug may be particularly useful for treating African American men and women with heart failure because they may have lower than usual levels of nitric oxide, a natural vasodilator.

Metalloproteinase (MMP) Inhibitors

Research on congestive heart failure has shown that CHF patients have elevated levels of metalloproteinase proteins. These proteins may have an adverse effect on the heart by changing the structure of the heart tissue. This is called remodeling. Studies are being performed to find a drug that can inhibit the process. MMPs have already been identified as causing remodeling in cases of cancer and arthritis.