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SHIFT trial : Ivabradine shining in Beta blocker’s glory ?

Posted Sep 20 2010 11:02am

We now understand , heart rate reduction  could be the single most important factor  in the management of heart failure .Beta blockers have proved this time and again.We know heart rate has a linear relationship between survival .

SHIFT trial has  proven  that  Ivabradine  has a major role in the management  of chronic heart failure therapy .It is an If current blocker .  No hemodynamic  side effects was noted.

How does Ivabradine act ?

It acts on the phase 4 diastolic depolarisation in SA node by slow I f  currents.

In this trial , the usage of  optimal Beta blockers  was  only in 25 %  . Patients  who received   complete beta blockade did show much benefit with Ivabradine . Further, the usage of  digoxin was only around 20% .This does not represent  the realistic  population of  cardiac  failure in many  countries  .In India , almost 70-80 % receive  it . Digoxin , the wonder drug does have an important vago mimetic action, to  reduce the heart rate .

Another  contentious issue   in SHIFT study  is , the Class 4 patients constituted <2% of the study population .It is ironical , these are the patients , one would  like to try a new rate control drugs like Ivabradine  , because we  are worried about beta blockers in this population  .A great opportunity was  lost as Ivabradine could have  been tried in this population.

We need a study  like this .

  • One to one comparison   of  beta blocker  and   Ivabradine  in cardiac failure  . Such a study will ever happen ? My guess is , it is  next to impossible !
  • Efficacy of  Ivabradine in patients with class 4  failure  , where beta blockers were contraindicated  or could not be administered.

Final message

Ivabradine , a new generation  negative chronotropic agent  is a great concept drug. But , the worthiness of this drug  is questionable , when we have  proven , well tolerated  drugs namely , the beta blockers to reduce the heart rate.. However , if the beta blockers are poorly tolerated  Ivabradine may be tried.Last , but not the least, never under-estimate the greatness of digoxin in heart failure.It is the only drug that has a positive  inotropic  properties coupled with  negative chronotropic action . Both benefits patients in CHF  . It can do wonders than any other drugs .(DIG trial was the most misunderstood by cardiologists!)


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