Aims Deterioration in ventricular function is often observed in patients treated with anthracyclines for cancer. There is a paucity of evidence on interventions that might provide cardio-protection. We investigated whether carvedilol can prevent doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity and whether any observed effect is dose related.
Methods and results A prospective, randomised, double-blind study in patients treated with doxorubicin, comparing placebo (n=38) with different doses of carvedilol [6.25 mg/day (n=41), 12.5 mg/day (n=38) or 25 mg/day (n=37)]. The primary endpoint was the measured change in left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) from baseline to 6 months. LVEF decreased from 62%±5% at baseline to 58%±7% at 6 months (p=0.002) in patients assigned to placebo but no statistically significant changes were observed in any of the 3 carvedilol groups. At 6 months, only one of 116 patients (1%) assigned to carvedilol had an LVEF <50% compared to four of the 38 assigned to placebo (11%), (p=0.013). No significant differences were noted between carvedilol and placebo in terms of the development of diastolic dysfunction, clinically overt heart failure or death.
Conclusions Carvedilol might prevent deterioration in LVEF in cancer patients treated with doxorubicin. This effect may not be dose related within the studied range
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