Background: Although beta-adrenergic-receptor antagonists reduce morbidity and mortality in patients with mild-to-moderate chronic heart failure, their effect on survival in patients with more advanced heart failure is unknown.
Methods: A total of 2708 patients with heart failure designated as New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional class III (in 92 percent of the patients) or IV (in 8 percent) and a left ventricular ejection fraction of 35 percent or lower were randomly assigned to double-blind treatment with either bucindolol (1354 patients) or placebo (1354 patients) and followed for the primary end point of death from any cause.
Results: The data and safety monitoring board recommended stopping the trial after the seventh interim analysis. At that time, there was no significant difference in mortality between the two groups (unadjusted P=0.16). The results presented here are based on complete follow-up at the time of study termination (average, 2.0 years). There were a total of 449 deaths in the placebo group (33 percent) and 411 deaths in the bucindolol group (30 percent; adjusted P=0.13). The risk of the secondary end point of death from cardiovascular causes was lower in the bucindolol group (hazard ratio, 0.86; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.74 to 0.99), as was the risk of heart transplantation or death (hazard ratio, 0.87; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.77 to 0.99).
Conclusions: In a demographically diverse group of patients with NYHA class III and IV heart failure, bucindolol resulted in no significant overall survival benefit.