December 30, 2008

New therapy for genetic heart disease

Long-term use of the hypertension drug candesartan may reduce symptoms of heart disease, researchers in the Czech Republic say.

Study leader Dr. Jiri Krupicka of Na Homolce Hospital in Prague, Czech Republic, conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study on the long-term administration of candesartan in patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy -- a genetic heart condition that thickens the heart muscle.

Krupicka's team found that candesartan reduced the symptoms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, including decreasing the thickening of the left ventricle. The researchers said they did not observe any adverse effects of candesartan use over the course of their study.

Penicka's group will extend this pilot trial to more patients to confirm the current findings and to identify the mechanism by which candesartan improves left ventricle thickening.

Although people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy usually display mild symptoms or are completely asymptomatic, up to 1 percent of affected people succumb to sudden cardiac death, often with no previous signs of illness.

The findings are published in the January issue of The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics.