A medicine made in Ireland can significantly reduce the risk of death and hospitalisation in patients with serious heart disease, a major new study has revealed.
The largest ever global study into heart failure said the medicine Ivabradine is likely to have a major new role to play in saving lives by slowing down hearts that beat too fast.
It is made by the French multinational Servier at its plant in Arklow, Co Wicklow, where 300 people are employed.
The results of the study, published in the Lancet medical journal, were presented to the European Society of Cardiology in Stockholm yesterday.
They include clinical trials in 37 countries including patients in six Irish hospitals.
It found it could reduce death and admission to hospital for patients with chronic heart failure by 26%. The importance of the result is its success in reducing heart rate which is the key to many patients' survival.
Chronic heart failure is the most common cause of hospitalisation in Irish patients over 65 years of age.
Heart failure can be caused by a number of other conditions, such as high blood pressure, and is more common in men than women.
Prof Ken McDonald, a cardiologist in Dublin’s St Vincent's Hospital, who was involved in the study, said the problem of heart failure is reaching epidemic proportions in Ireland and around the world due to the ageing population.
He said: ““We have not seen results like this in heart failure in some time so this is of major clinical importance.”