Americans keep hoping for miracle drugs to cure their worst ailments.
One may have surfaced for heart failure. An experimental drug developed by Novartis of Switzerland and tested in a large clinical trial reduced both the risk of dying from cardiovascular causes and the risk of being hospitalized for worsening heart failure by 20 percent. The results were presented over the weekend at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Barcelona, Spain, and published in The New England Journal of Medicine, The New York Times reports.
That’s good news. Heart failure is a leading cause of hospitalization in the United States and Europe, affecting about 5 million to 6 million Americans and 26 million people worldwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in nine deaths in 2009 included heart failure as contributing cause.
About half of people who develop heart failure die within five years of diagnosis. Heart failure costs the nation an estimated $32 billion annually. That includes the cost of health care services, medications to treat heart failure, and missed days of work, the CDC reports.
But the new drug, which could replace an existing treatment for heart failure, shouldn’t signal people keep smoking, abandon diets rich in fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes, or stop exercising to maintain a healthy heart and circulation. The best way to avoid heart problems is continued efforts toward prevention.