Bonarjee VV. Dickstein K. Novel drugs and current therapeutic approaches in the treatment of heart failure. Drugs. 1996;51(3):347-58.
Treatment of heart failure attempts to reduce symptoms, increase functional capacity and prolong survival. Optimal therapy usually requires a combination of several drugs. At present, ACE inhibitors are the drugs of first choice, but must be combined with diuretics in symptomatic patients. Digitalis glycosides are still an important supplement to diuretics and ACE inhibitors. Specific angiotensin receptor antagonists such as losartan have an effect comparable with that of ACE inhibitors and may possess certain advantages because of their direct effect at the receptor level. Extensive research has been conducted in the treatment of heart failure. Newer direct acting vasodilators such as flosequinan and epoprostenol have demonstrated improved exercise tolerance but have an adverse effect on mortality. Positive inotropic agents consisting of a heterogeneous group of drugs have been evaluated. Although novel agents such as xamoterol, milrinone, pimobendan and vesnarinone have demonstrated improved haemodynamics and improved symptoms, they are not advisable at present due to increased mortality related to treatment or a high incidence of adverse events. beta-Blockers, used judiciously, may improve functional capacity as well as mortality and may be an important supplement to current conventional treatment. The new generation of beta-blockers with vasodilating properties such as carvedilol and bucindolol appear promising.