FRIDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- An older antidepressant that's no longer prescribed may find new life as an effective heart failure treatment, research suggests.
The drug, known as clorgyline, hasn't been tested in humans as a heart-failure medication, but research in animals has found it can reduce and even reverse the symptoms of heart failure, including enlargement of the heart and a weakened ability to pump blood through the body.
Researchers reporting their findings in the Jan. 8 issue of Circulation Research say the drug blocks a key enzyme called monoamine oxidase-A. Clorgyline stops the enzyme from breaking down a neurohormone -- norepinephrine -- that controls the pace of the heart's pumping.
"Our study helps describe heart failure as a vicious chemical circle of stimulant norepinephrine overload and breakdown, and it offers a disease blueprint with monoamine oxidase-A as the target for drugs similar to clorgyline to rein in the disease," says senior study investigator and cardiologist Dr. Nazareno Paolocci in a statement. He is an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and at the University of Perugia in Italy.
However, clorgyline also has a variety of side effects, Paolocci said, and people who take it have to avoid a long list of foods. Newer drugs in the same class as clorgyline will have to be tested first, he said.
An estimated 5.7 million American men and women suffer from chronic heart failure. The disorder killed an estimated 290,000 people in 2005.
Learn more about heart failure from the American Heart Association.
SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Medicine, news release, Jan. 5, 2010