Some patients with chronic heart failure may benefit from growth hormone replacement, suggests a small study.
Previous research has suggested that nearly four in ten patients with chronic heart failure have growth hormone deficiency.
Treating the growth hormone deficiency may slow down heart failure, at least in the short term, said researchers from the University of Naples in Italy.
Patients with heart failure and growth hormone deficiency were shown to have short term improvement in heart function after receiving growth hormone replacement. But some previous studies have shown cardiac risks with replacement therapy.
"Although this is a preliminary study, the new finding suggests a new therapeutic approach to a large proportion of growth-hormone-deficient patients with chronic heart failure," say the researchers led by Dr Antonio Cittadini.
The team looked at 158 patients with moderate to severe heart failure and found 63 had growth hormone deficiency.Of those completing the four year study, 17 patients were given growth hormone and 14 were not.
Left ventricular ejection fraction (a measure of the heartâ€™s pumping ability) rose by 10 per cent in the growth hormone group compared with a decline of two per cent in the others.
Increases in peak oxygen consumption and a lower number of hospital admissions for worsening heart failure in the growth hormone group were also noted.
There were no major adverse events among patients who received growth hormone, although two patients on the drug reported joint pain, a common complication with these drugs.
The researchers said that long-term growth hormone replacement may involve changes to the progression of congestive heart failure, but larger and longer trials were needed.
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