2021 | HFSA

Understanding the Underlying Challenge in Heart Failure: Heart Muscle Contraction and Its Role in Heart Failure with Reduced Ejection Fraction (HFrEF)

Patient News Heart Failure Awareness 365

Sponsored content provided by Cytokinetics

One of the hardest working muscles in body is the heart. A well-functioning heart pumps out approximately two (2) ounces (71 grams) of blood with every heartbeat, thus powering the rest of the body. When the heart has a difficult time beating well enough to meet the body’s needs, that may lead to problems with how a person feels and functions. If this happens then one possible diagnosis is heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF). The main problem in HFrEF is that the heart is weak and does not contract as it should. In trying to fix or compensate for this problem, the body increases activity of other systems. Among other things, this may result in an increased heart rate, fluid retention, and decreased blood flow to the kidneys. There are many approved medications for the treatment of HFrEF that address these issues. For example, beta-blockers may help decrease the heart rate and diuretics may help with fluid retention. Many of these medications improve survival and decrease the likelihood of being hospitalized for heart failure. Because of this, they are valuable treatments and are frequently used in patients with HFrEF.  

However, the main problem in HFrEF is that the heart is not beating as effectively as it needs. While there are medications available which can increase the pumping ability of the heart – a class of medications called inotropes – because of side effects and the need to be administered through a vein, they are usually reserved for more severe cases. People with heart failure could potentially benefit from a medication which directly increases the heart’s pumping ability and is not associated with potentially severe side effects.  

“One of the hardest things to do as a heart failure patient is to deal with the side effects of our medications. I want medications that work more effectively than the ones I take but without the side effects. Our hearts are already compromised; our lives do not need to be,” says a heart failure patient and community advocate in emphasizing the common desire to improve the quality and comfort of life. New medications are being studied to help address this unmet need. If proven safe and effective, these medications may offer an option for patients to directly improve the main problem in HFrEF.

About the Sponsor

Cytokinetics is a late-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering, developing and commercializing first-in-class muscle activators and next-in-class muscle inhibitors. We are committed to our mission of developing potential medicines that may improve the healthspan of people living with cardiovascular and neuromuscular diseases of impaired muscle function.

Helpful Resources

Visit the HFSA Patient Hub to explore tools and resources to help patients stay healthy while living with heart failure. 

View Heart Failure Awareness 365 activities to stay up-to-date on tips for healthy living for people living with heart failure.