PARIS –A study of the angiotensin receptor-neprilysin inhibitor sacubitril-valsartan supports updated guidelines that encourage ARNI substitution for traditional therapies in lower-risk heart failure patients, although the study found, according results reported here at the annual congress of the European Society of Cardiology. The study was published simultaneously in JAMA.
“The study findings may provide insight into mechanisms underlying the effects of sacubitril-valsartan in heart failure and reduced ejection fraction,” lead author Akshay S. Desai, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, and co-authors wrote.
The study set out to determine the pathophysiologic mechanisms behind the clinical effects of sacubitril-valsartan, compared with enalapril in patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF). The EVALUATE-HF trial evaluated 464 patients age 50 years and older with multiple cardiovascular symptoms, including chronic heart failure with ejection fraction of less than 40%. Aortic characteristic impedance, a measure of central aortic stiffness, was evaluated with two-dimensional echocardiography at screening, then at four, 12 and 24 weeks. The primary endpoint was change in aortic characteristic impedance between the two treatment groups at 12 weeks.
Aortic characteristic impedance at baseline to 12 weeks decreased from 223.8 to 218.9 dyne x s/cm 5 in the sacubitril-valsartan treatment group and increased from 213.2 to 214.4 dyne x s/cm 5 in the enalapril group. “There was no statistically significant difference between groups in the change from baseline,” the investigators wrote. The between-group difference factored out to -2.2 dyne x s/cm 5 , ranging from -17.6 to 13.2 dyne x s/cm 5 . This was despite a reduction in brachial systolic blood pressure (6.5 and 1.6 mm Hg) and central systolic blood pressure (4.9 and 2.3 mm Hg), respectively.
The sacubitril-valsartan group showed greater reductions in left ventricular end-diastolic volume index, left ventricular end-systolic volume index, left atrial volume index and mitral E/e ′ ratio. “Although ejection fraction increased modestly by 1.9% in the sacubitril-valsartan group and by 1.3% in the enalapril group, we observed no significant between-group differences in change from baseline to 12 weeks in left ventricular ejection fraction or in other measured parameters,” the investigators wrote. Those other parameters include global longitudinal strain, mitral e ′ velocity or arterial elastance:ventricular elastance ratio. Rates of hypertension, hyperkalemia, and worsening renal function were similar in both groups.
Another secondary outcome was change from baseline in the overall 12-item Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire (KCCQ). A post-hoc analysis evaluated patients who achieved a statistically significant 5-points-or-greater change in KCCQ score, finding the score improved by 8.9 points in the sacubitril-valsartan group and 4.3 points in the enalapril group, a difference wider than 8-month results from the PARADIGM-HF trial ( Circ Heart Fail. 2017;10:e003430). “These data suggest that clinical benefits of sacubitril-valsartan compared with enalapril in patients with HFrEF are likely unrelated to changes in central aortic stiffness or pulsatile load, despite favorable effects of neprilysin inhibition on myocardial remodeling and wall stress,” the investigators wrote.
The data support the current guidelines for substituting ARNI for angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors/angiotensin receptor blockers therapy, “even in the face of apparent clinical stability,” Dr. Desai and co-authors said. In an invited commentary, Mark H. Drazner, MD , of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, said the EVALUATE-HF trial, along with the observational PROVE-HF trial data also reported at the ESC meeting (JAMA. 2019 Sept 2. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.12821), “strongly suggest” ARNI therapy can promote cardiac reverse remodeling in patients with HFrEF. “As with beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors, it thus appears that the benefits of ARNI therapy on clinical outcomes in patients with HFrEF are mediated, at least in part, by their favorable effects on the adverse cardiac remodeling that characterizes the condition,” Dr. Desai and co-authors wrote.
The EVALUATE-HF trial was sponsored by Novartis. Dr. Desai disclosed financial relationships with Alnylam, AstraZeneca, Novartis, Abbott, Biofourmis, Boehringer Ingelheim, Boston Scientific, DalCor Pharma and Regeneron. Dr. Drazner has no financial relationships to disclose.
SOURCE: Desai AS et al. JAMA. 2019 Sept 2. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.12843.