, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 11 – Around half of people with heart conditions will have reduced ejection fraction after the Sacubitril/Valsartan drug was approved by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board.
Reduced ejection fraction is a condition where the heart muscle does not contract effectively and less oxygen-rich blood is pumped out to the body.
President of the Kenya Cardiac Society Bernard Gitura noted that the drug shows a 20 per cent reduction in the risk of death from cardiovascular causes or hospitalization for worsening heart failure.
“The drug will offer significant improvement in the safety and effectiveness of heart failure treatment versus current standard of care,” Dr Gitura stated.
Unlike in the West, the overwhelming cause of heart failure in Kenya is hypertension, followed by cardiomyopathy, rheumatic heart disease and ischemic heart disease.
Heart failure generally worsens over time.
Although currently recommended treatments have improved the prognosis for people with heart failure, it remains a life-threatening disease which results in frequent hospital visits, and seriously impairs a patient’s ability to enjoy an active life.
Heart failure specialist at the Aga Khan University Hospital Nairobi Anders Barasa said that despite the growing methods of treatment options for heart failure in recent years, management of this condition remains daunting for health care practitioners.
“It is rare that we have a new molecule with a new mechanism come along, especially one that makes our patients feel better, have fewer hospitalizations and live longer,” he said.
Heart failure is the number one reason for hospitalization in people over 65 years with the conditions approaching epidemic proportions impacting more than 60 million people worldwide.
Heart failure often occurs when the heart muscle has been injured. This can happen following a heart attack or other illnesses affecting the heart, or by damage that occurs more gradually due to diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, high cholesterol, excess alcohol consumption and drug abuse.
There is currently no cure for heart failure, leading to the death of around half of all patients within five years of diagnosis with current treatments primarily aiming to manage the debilitating symptoms.