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Arthritis Drug Appears to Alleviate Some Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure

Aired November 14, 2000 - 1:41 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: A quick check of medical news for you, because a popular arthritis drug, we are told, may help heart patients. Scientists attending an American Heart Association convention in New Orleans this week say the drug Enbrel appears to ease the effects of congestive heart failure.

Here's CNN medical correspondent Rhonda Rowland on what a difference this drug has made for one patient.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RHONDA ROWLAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gloria Audd had a heart attack at age 50. Since then, she's had triple-bypass surgery and two angioplasties.

GLORIA AUDD, HEART PATIENT: My heart was just gradually getting worse, and I was just getting to where I wasn't even -- I wasn't able to even more hardly, and I couldn't go anyplace.

ROWLAND: She had developed heart failure. Standard therapies were not helping. Then doctors asked if she'd be willing to try, of all things, a rheumatoid arthritis drug called Enbrel.

Just as inflammation contributes to the pain of arthritis, researchers have evidence inflammation makes heart failure worse.

DR. DOUGLAS MANN, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: So the concept with Etanercept or Enbrel was that we were reducing inflammation within the myocardium and hoping that the myocardium will actually heal.

ROWLAND: That appears to be the case with Gloria Audd.

AUDD: In my walking, there's no comparison to walking, because I used to have to stop every few feet and I had angina. And so now, I can walk pretty far. Sometimes I get a little out of breath.

ROWLAND: Dr. Mann says Enbrel will not cure heart failure, but helps some patients feel better. In a study of 47 patients followed for three months, 66 percent of the high-dose group improved; 50 percent of those on the medium dose improved.

MANN: We've been able to demonstrate that those patients actually had reversal in the size of their heart, what we call reverse remodeling, as well as an improvement in their overall functional capacity and a trend toward improvement and quality of life.

ROWLAND: Other heart failure researchers are encouraged by the new finding.

DR. BERTRAM PITT, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: So far, the data that Dr. Mann has presented is very encouraging, but it's something, I would say, we have to keep our eye on.

ROWLAND (on camera): Enbrel has been on the market for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis for two years. Preliminary studies suggest, in addition to heart failure, it may also be useful in treating ulcerative colitis, Chrohn's disease and psoriasis.

Why is it that one drug may be so versatile?

(voice-over): Researchers say they're starting to understand that inflammation is at the root cause of a variety of diseases. Gloria Audd has been taking Enbrel for almost two years.

AUDD: I don't know what I'd have done without it. I think I'd have already been gone.

ROWLAND: Researchers say it would be premature to use Enbrel routinely in heart failure until larger studies are completed. The results are expected in 2002.

Rhonda Rowland, CNN, Houston.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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