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      Calcium Channel Blockers in Heart Failure


      S. Karger AG

      Heart failure, Mibefradil, Amlodipine, Calcium channel blocker, Congestive heart failure, Dihydropyridines

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          A considerable effort has been made in the last 15 years to evaluate the safety and efficacy of calcium channel blockers (CCBs) in the treatment of patients with chronic congestive heart failure (CHF). Available studies have provided strong evidence for a potential detrimental effect of the first-generation calcium antagonists in patients with CHF, indicating the need for great caution when these drugs are used in patients with significant depression of left ventricular systolic function. A number of second-generation CCB have demonstrated a strong vasodilatory effect and favorable hemodynamic action but failed to show a similar improvement in exercise capacity, morbidity and mortality. Moreover, drugs such as nicardipine and nisoldipine have resulted in a detrimental effect in some patients and, therefore, cannot be considered safe when used in patients with moderate-to-severe heart failure. Available information from the V-HeFT III study demonstrate a lack of an unfavorable effect of felodipine on exercise tolerance in patients with chronic heart failure. Although mortality rate was similar in both the felodipine and the placebo group, because of the relatively small number of patients in this study, no clear conclusion can be drawn regarding the effect of felodipine on mortality in patients with CHF. An encouraging signal regarding a potential role of CCB in the treatment of chronic heart failure has been provided by the recently completed PRAISE study. This prospective large-scale study demonstrated the safety of amlodipine, a long-acting dihydropyridine derivative, when used in patients with heart failure due to coronary artery disease. Furthermore, this study demonstrated a substantial reduction in mortality in patients with CHF due to nonischemic cardiomyopathy and provided a strong indication for a potential therapeutic benefit of amlodipine when added to standard CHF therapy in this patient population. No clear explanation is available at the present time regarding the reason for the deleterious effect demonstrated with some of the dihydropyridines and the contrasting benefit seen with amlodipine. Finally, more information regarding the safety and efficacy of dihydropyridines should become available in the next year. The PRAISE II study is ongoing and will provide further information regarding the therapeutic role of amlodipine in patients with nonischemic dilated cardiomyopathy. The MACH-1 study is evaluating the effect of mibefradil, a predominant T-type channel blocker with an ideal activity profile, on morbidity and mortality in patients with chronic CHF.

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          Most cited references 3

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          Effect of amlodipine on morbidity and mortality in severe chronic heart failure. Prospective Randomized Amlodipine Survival Evaluation Study Group.

          Previous studies have shown that calcium-channel blockers increase morbidity and mortality in patients with chronic heart failure. We studied the effect of a new calcium-channel blocker, amlodipine, in patients with severe chronic heart failure. We randomly assigned 1153 patients with severe chronic heart failure and ejection fractions of less than 30 percent to double-blind treatment with either placebo (582 patients) or amlodipine (571 patients) for 6 to 33 months, while their usual therapy was continued. The randomization was stratified on the basis of whether patients had ischemic or nonischemic causes of heart failure. The primary end point of the study was death from any cause and hospitalization for major cardiovascular events. Primary end points were reached in 42 percent of the placebo group and 39 percent of the amlodipine group, representing a 9 percent reduction in the combined risk of fatal and nonfatal events with amlodipine (95 percent confidence interval, 24 percent reduction to 10 percent increase; P=0.31). A total of 38 percent of the patients in the placebo group died, as compared with 33 percent of those in the amlodipine group, representing a 16 percent reduction in the risk of death with amlodipine (95 percent confidence interval, 31 percent reduction to 2 percent increase; P=0.07). Among patients with ischemic heart disease, there was no difference between the amlodipine and placebo groups in the occurrence of either end point. In contrast, among patients with nonischemic cardiomyopathy, amlodipine reduced the combined risk of fatal and nonfatal events by 31 percent (P=0.04) and decreased the risk of death by 46 percent (P<0.001). Amlodipine did not increase cardiovascular morbidity or mortality in patients with severe heart failure. The possibility that amlodipine prolongs survival in patients with nonischemic dilated cardiomyopathy requires further study.
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            Specific pharmacology of calcium in myocardium, cardiac pacemakers, and vascular smooth muscle.

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              Comparative pharmacology of calcium antagonists: nifedipine, verapamil and diltiazem.

               Michael Henry (1980)
              Calcium antagonists (slow channel blocking agents) are a very heterogeneous group of agents with dissimilar structural, electrophysiologic and pharmacologic properties. Nifedipine is a potent, long-acting vasodilator that has proved highly efficacious in relieving anginal symptoms caused by coronary vasospasm. In vivo, it exerts no myocardial depressant effects and has no antiarrhythmic properties. Treatment with nifedipine can safely be combined with administration of a beta receptor blocking agent. VErapamil prolongs atrioventricular (A-V) conduction (A-H interval) in a dose-dependent manner. It is the drug of choice for the treatment of reentrant supraventricular arrhythmias, irrespective of whether reentry occurs within the A-V node or through an accessory pathway (the Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome). Verapamil is only moderately effective as an antianginal agent. Diltiazem is efficacious for the treatment of angiospastic angina, but its value as an antiarrhythmic agent remains to be delineated.

                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                February 1998
                03 March 1998
                : 89
                : Suppl 1
                : 38-46
                Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, Calif., USA
                47278 Cardiology 1998;89(suppl 1):38–46
                © 1998 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                References: 75, Pages: 9


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