Drug Treatment of Heart Failure with Reduced Ejection Fraction: Defining the Role of Vericiguat

Link to article at PubMed

Drugs. 2021 Sep 3. doi: 10.1007/s40265-021-01586-y. Online ahead of print.


Vericiguat, a novel stimulator of soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC), has shown promising results in patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) in the recent VICTORIA trial. The nitric oxide (NO)-sGC-cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) signaling pathway is disturbed in heart failure, leading to increased formation of reactive oxygen species and reduced NO bioavailability, and resultant myocardial dysfunction, adverse left ventricular remodeling, and cardiorenal syndrome. Restoration of sufficient NO-sGC-cGMP signaling has been proposed as an important treatment target in heart failure, beyond neurohormonal blockage and afterload reduction. Vericiguat has a dual mode of action on this axis, it both sensitizes sGC to low levels of NO, and can directly stimulate sGC in the absence of any endogenous NO. VICTORIA was a Phase 3 trial that compared vericiguat, at a target dose of 10 mg, with placebo in 5050 patients with HFrEF (ejection fraction < 45%) on top of guideline-indicated therapy. The composite endpoint was the first occurrence of cardiovascular death or hospitalization for heart failure. The median follow up was 10.8 months. The included patients had to have had a heart failure-related hospitalization or need of IV diuretic therapy in the past 6 months, making it a particularly high risk and vulnerable patient population. The composite endpoint occurred less frequently with vericiguat than with placebo (35.5% vs 38.5%, p = 0.02). Adverse events were common in both groups, syncope was more common with vericiguat than with placebo (4% vs 3.5%, p = 0.03). Compared to the other recent large trials in HFrEF, PARADIGM-HF and DAPA-HF, patients in VICTORIA were older, more symptomatic (up to 40% NYHA IIIIV class), had higher N-terminal-pro hormone B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) levels, and were more vulnerable since 84% had been hospitalized for heart failure in the previous 6 months. While drugs involving the neurohormonal pathways are effective in slowing down the progression of disease in more stable HFrEF, vericiguat may be a drug of choice particularly in the highest risk patients with recent or recurrent hospitalizations despite full background medication. The drug has also shown safety in patients with reduced renal function. This article discusses the place in therapy of vericiguat in patients with HFrEF, which is a heterogenous group in terms of etiology, clinical profiles, and comorbidities.

PMID:34478114 | DOI:10.1007/s40265-021-01586-y

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