Previous open studies have suggested that felodipine, a selective calcium antagonist and vasodilator, may be useful in the treatment of heart failure. A double blind placebo controlled crossover trial was therefore conducted to investigate the clinical and haemodynamic effects of felodipine in 15 patients with chronic ischaemic heart failure in New York Heart Association symptom class III. Felodipine significantly increased resting and exercise (25W bicycle ergometry) cardiac output without producing concomitant changes in resting or exercise heart rate or right and left ventricular filling pressures. Felodipine did not significantly improve symptom scores or exercise capacity in the group as a whole. It also resulted in significant fluid retention as shown by a rise in ankle circumference, body weight, and a fall in haematocrit. Further research is required to elucidate the mechanism that is responsible for the discrepancy between the haemodynamic and clinical effects of felodipine in patients with moderately severe heart failure.
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