Low-cost heart drug that cuts deaths by 40 percent gets approval

A low-cost drug that could cut the risk of dying from heart failure by more than a third has been approved by European regulators.

The results of a major clinical trial of Procoralan, which costs less than £10 ($16) a week, showed Tuesday that the drug could reduce the risk of dying from heart failure by 39 percent.

It works by slowing the beating of the heart, helping it to pump blood more efficiently.

British doctors who studied the drug, also known as ivabradine, believe it could save 10,000 lives a year in the UK alone.

Professor Martin Cowie, consultant cardiologist at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, led the study, which involved 6,505 people in 37 countries.

He said, "The results of the trial demonstrate the value that a reduction in heart rate with ivabradine can bring, both in terms of improving symptoms and preventing disease progression, but also in helping patients return to normal daily activities and increasing their enjoyment of life."

Heart failure affects 900,000 people in the UK, causing 100,000 deaths a year.

The disorder is usually the result of a heart attack damaging the pumping muscles. It significantly reduces the amount of oxygenated blood reaching the body, causing progressive breathlessness and disability.

The drug has yet to be assessed by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for widespread use on the UK's National Health Service.

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