Heart drug may increase risk of death

A drug which is supposed to help heart patients overcome the pain and after-effects of heart failure can actually increase their risk of death. In a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Cardiologist Sidney Goldstein said the drug, vesnarinone, should not be approved or used.

The conclusion came as a surprise to many, since the study was funded by the drug's manufacturer, Otsuka America Pharmaceutical. The drug has not been approved for use in the United States.

The study, which involved 3,833 patients, revealed that the death rate among patients taking vesnarinone was 21% higher than among those not taking the drug.

The scientists say the higher death rate was due largely to irregular heart beats caused by the drug, which is designed to strengthen heart muscle contractions. At the highest doses, the drug did make patients feel better, but the improvement lasted only about four months, and by six months there was no difference between the groups.

SOURCE: The New England Journal of Medicine, Dec. 17, 1998.

The Chiropractic Journal.

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