Clenbuterol Might Help Fight Heart Failure

  1. Post Clenbuterol Might Help Fight Heart Failure

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    Asthma Drug Might Help Fight Heart Failure

    HealthDay News

    Body builders sometimes turn, illicitly, to the asthma drug clenbuterol Zoek to help them bulk up, but now researchers say the drug might also help heart failure patients stay strong without the need for heart transplant.


    The first U.S. study of the drug found it was safe in a small number of heart failure patients. The drug was also found to increase skeletal muscle mass and strength, although there was no significant change in heart function.

    The trial, which is a precursor to bigger trials, is an example of how far doctors will go to find solutions to the growing problem of heart failure. And like many other avenues of research, the promise is still a faint one.

    "We've learned the hard way that any pharmacological intervention in this very fragile group of patients needs to be studied very cautiously and thoroughly," cautioned Dr. Ann Bolger, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. "Something that looks to be positive early on may not still be positive later on."

    The end step for many heart failure patients is a heart transplant. But with a worldwide shortage of organ donors, many patients have to survive on heart pumps. Is there a way to avoid both heart pumps and transplants? Possibly, the experts say.

    "The idea is to one day develop strategies to promote cardiac recovery while patients are supported with a heart pump. That would obviate the need for heart transplants," said Dr. Simon Maybaum, medical director of the Center for Advanced Cardiac Therapy and the Cardiac Transplant and Assist Device Program at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. "This is a growing area of research, and both novel pharmacological agents and cellular therapy [stem cells] will be studied. This research is crucial since because of the critical lack of organs for patients with end-stage heart failure."

    Maybaum was lead author of the study, which was presented recently at a meeting of the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation in Madrid, Spain.

    "We're looking for ways to make the transition off the pump and potentially go forward from there," Bolger added. "We need more tools to save lives."

    Studies done by one British center found that clenbuterol resulted in significant improvement in cardiac function in patients with heart pumps awaiting heart transplants. In fact, the pumps could be taken out in more than half of the patients, meaning they no longer were in need of transplant. Those studies used doses 20 times those typically used by asthma patients and athletes.

    Clenbuterol is not approved in the United States and, in fact, has a checkered history: Some people fell ill after eating livestock that had been treated with the drug.

    Maybaum, however, managed to obtain permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to conduct a small pilot study using high-dose clenbuterol Meer.

    There were two parts to the study: The first tested high-dose clenbuterol in heart pump patients. The second focused on whether the drug in lower doses would improve muscle function and quality of life in heart failure patients without heart pumps (those with milder heart failure). Seven patients completed the study.

    Clenbuterol did increase skeletal muscle mass and strength, and was safe at the doses given -- 10 to 15 times that usually taken by asthmatics and athletes. There was no significant change in heart function. However, Maybaum pointed out that the study was not designed to look at this. Data from the second part of the study is still blinded to researchers, and therefore not yet available.

    The next step will be to conduct a multi-center trial in the United States to try to replicate the British findings with heart pump patients. However, some experts voiced major concerns.

    "Patients in heart failure have a pretty broad spectrum of responses to all kinds of therapies, so we have to be very careful. In some situations, this type of drug can be very dangerous with respect to arrhythmias, blood pressure changes and even stroke," Bolger said. "Medications that seem to give the heart an extra boost sometimes make patients feel better, but increase early mortality."

    On the other hand, Bolger added, muscle-building strategies including physical fitness, have already been shown to benefit heart failure patients.

    Even the study authors were cautious about the odds of success.

    "Whenever there are such novel results which have the potential to dramatically affect such a difficult disease process, we go into the research with a mixture of excitement and skepticism," Maybaum acknowledged. "We're optimistic that we will find solution, but we're not sure which one will bear out. We will definitely live in an era where we will be able to repair the heart as opposed to replace it."

    Effect of Clenbuterol on Cardiac and Skeletal Muscle Function during LVAD Support

    [Oral Session 234]
    April 8, 2006
    The International Society for Heart & Lung Transplantation

    Background: While clenbuterol may improve cardiac function during LVAD support, its effects on skeletal muscle and functional capacity are unknown.

    Methods: Eight subjects (5 ischemic, 3 non-ischemic) were enrolled 5-46 weeks post-LVAD implantation. Subjects continued their standard CHF regimen and received clenbuterol to a maximal daily dose of 720 mcg. Echocardiography at reduced LVAD support (4 L/min), cardiopulmonary exercise testing, body composition analysis, and quadriceps maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) were performed at baseline and after 3 months of clenbuterol therapy. Myocyte size and collagen deposition were measured at device implantation and explantation in 4 subjects.

    Results: One subject dropped out before receiving clenbuterol. All remaining subjects reached target dose with no serious adverse events or arrhythmias. CPK was elevated in 4 subjects (range 314-1497 mg/dl). Ejection fraction (LVEF) was reduced in all but one subject, with a significant increase in ventricular dimension.

    Body weight, lean mass, and quadriceps cross-sectional area significantly increased during the study. Body Weight (lbs) Pre-Clenbuterol: 166 39; Body Weight (lbs) Post-Clenbuterol:177 46. Lean Mass (kg) Pre-Clenbuterol: 21.1 8.9; Lean Mass (kg) Post-Clenbuterol: 23.6 9.7. Fat Mass (kg) Pre-Clenbuterol: 6.8 3.3; Fat Mass (kg) Post-Clenbuterol:7.4 3.7.

    Exercise capacity did not change, but MVC significantly improved. No significant change in myocyte size or collagen deposition was seen.

    Conclusion: Although no significant change in LVEF was seen, clenbuterol increased skeletal muscle mass and strength and prevented the expected reduction in myocyte size.

  2. Wow...thats pretty much the exact opposite of what I've always heard...and aren't heart problmes one of the main reasons ppl are scared of clen these days? May be good news!
    E-Pharm Nutrition Representative

  3. Quote Originally Posted by rampage jackson
    Wow...thats pretty much the exact opposite of what I've always heard...and aren't heart problmes one of the main reasons ppl are scared of clen these days? May be good news!
    I think the key difference here would be clen under medical supervision and clen being self-medicated.

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