Dapagliflozin, widely used to treat type 2 diabetes, was shown to improve symptoms and physical limitations in patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, according to clinical trial results reported in Nature Medicine.
Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) occurs when the heart’s lower left chamber is unable to fill with blood properly. The condition accounts for approximately half of all heart failure cases and disproportionally affects older individuals. Patients with HFpEF can experience a host of debilitating symptoms linked to cardiometabolic abnormalities, including physical limitations, impaired cognition and poor quality of life. Life expectancy is also reduced for patients with this diagnosis, with 50% of patients with the diagnosis not expected to survive more than five years.
Finding ways to improve patients’ health and developing or identifying therapeutic interventions that not only reduce hospitalisation but also improve patient survival is key, the researchers said, but at present there are no available treatments that improve patient survival for patients with HFpEF.
Previous studies have shown that sodium glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors – which inhibit SGLT2 receptor proteins produced by the kidneys and are used to treat type 2 diabetes – reduces risk of cardiovascular death and heart failure-related hospitalisation in patients with HFpEF.
For this trial, the researchers measured patient-reported symptoms, physical limitations and function in patients with HFpEF who were taking dapagliflozin, an SGLT2 inhibitor drug.
A total of 324 patients with HFpEF, 56.8% women, were randomised to receive either dapagliflozin or placebo for 12 weeks and at the end of the trial were evaluated using the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire Clinical Summary Score, a measure of heart failure-related health status.
“It’s important to note the percentage of women that were enrolled in this study because usually women are under-enrolled in clinical trials,” pointed out study co-author Professor Sadiya Khan.
Compared to the placebo group, an overall improvement in patient-reported symptoms, physical limitations and exercise function was seen in the dapagliflozin group. Adverse events were also similar between both groups, the authors reported.
“It was definitely surprising and very exciting to see such a stark difference between the treatment group and the placebo group, that there was this clear separation that happened even over a short period of time,” Prof Khan said, adding that next steps will be to investigate dapagliflozin’s precise molecular mechanisms that enable its effectiveness.
Source: Northwestern University