The need for a new, effective treatment for heart failure is so dire that experts said they would immediately prescribe serelaxin for their patients -- if the findings from this trial are replicated and the drug is approved.
"If this drug reduces mortality -- if that mortality finding is real -- boy, are we going to get excited," said Dr. Elliott Antman, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital, in Boston. "The real question is whether the mortality difference seen in this trial is a true and replicable finding."
But another expert noted that initial trials of promising new medicines for heart failure have raised false hopes in the past.
Dr. Mariell Jessup is medical director of the Penn Medicine Heart and Vascular Center at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, in Philadelphia, and president-elect of the American Heart Association.
"We have very little that we can use in the hospital" for heart failure, Jessup said, so the advent of a drug like serelaxin "would be an exciting find."
"But I also agree with the caveats that we've heard -- that it's a small trial and maybe we've been misled," she added.
Experts also stress that findings presented at medical meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Find out more about heart failure at the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
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