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Update to Guidelines for Heart Failure Drug Therapies 2016

CardioSmart News

In response to advancements in heart failure treatment, the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association and Heart Failure Society of America revised guidelines for the management of heart failure. Released on May 20, 2016, this update focuses on two new drugs, ivabradine and the combination tablet of valsartan and sacubitril, both of which recently were approved for heart failure treatment by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Based on research, both drugs show great promise for improving outcomes in patients with heart failure. However, guidelines are needed to ensure that treatment is safe and effective. Here’s what all patients should know about the latest heart failure recommendations.

The latest update specifically addresses two new types of heart failure drugs:

  • An angiotensin receptor-neprilysin inhibitor (ARNI) (generic: valsartan/sacubitril, brand name: Entresto)
  • A sinoatrial node modulator (generic: ivabradine, brand name: Corlanor)

Research suggests that both drugs help reduce hospitalizations and improve outcomes for patients with heart failure. These therapies “represent a milestone in the evolution of care for patients with heart failure,” according to experts.

However, they’re not for everyone. As the guidelines explain, both drug therapies are for patients with chronic heart failure who experience common symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue and inability to exercise. At the moment, these new drugs are not intended for patients at the very early or end stages of heart failure.

And based on the latest guidelines, it’s important that medications are prescribed appropriately and under certain conditions. For example, the combination tablet of valsartan and sacubitril can be used to replace ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors or ARBs (angiotensin II receptor blockers), which help control blood pressure. However, valsartan/sacubitril should not be used together with ACE inhibitors or in patients who have experienced a skin reaction called angioedema.

In addition to detailing risks and benefits associated with the new heart failure drugs, the latest update highlights the need for more research on the issue. Additional research can help refine the guidelines and improve the safety and efficacy of these drug therapies in patients with heart failure.

Read the full update to these guidelines in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: "2016 ACC/AHA/HFSA Focused Update on New Pharmacological Therapy for Heart Failure."

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