Ivabradine approved for UK use

A PILL costing just £1.40 a day which dramatically slashes the number of deaths from heart failure is available to British patients from today.

The wonder drug could save the lives of tens of thousands of sufferers from one of the most common heart conditions each year.

It would also save the NHS millions by cutting hospital admissions by a quarter.

One expert who has been involved in the drug’s trials hailed it as “fantastic news for both patients and doctors”.

Professor Martin Cowie, consultant cardiologist and specialist in heart failure at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, said: “This will have a huge impact up and down the country.”

The drug has already been used in angina patients in the UK for years and is known to be safe. But now it has been approved by the European Medicines Agency for use in treating those with heart failure, a devastating condition which affects 900,000 people in this country.

It occurs when the heart becomes too weak to pump blood efficiently around the body, leading to fatigue, breathlessness, increased heart rate and other complications.

This EMA approval is an important step in the drug – ivabradine, which is also known under the brand name Procoralan – being licensed in the UK for widespread use in the NHS.

The medicines watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, is considering the trial data, with a licensing decision expected later this year.

The Heart
The Heart

In the meantime, it can only be prescribed at the discretion of individual primary care trusts or specialist cardiologists in hospitals.

Heart failure kills around 100,000 people each year and many patients find they are admitted to hospital time and again because of their symptoms.

Yet trials have shown that Procoralan slashes the number of deaths by 39 per cent, suggesting that 39,000 lives could be saved.

It also cuts hospital admissions by 24 per cent which is set to significantly reduce the £625million a year in healthcare costs that heart failure amounts to for the NHS – a possible annual saving of more than £100million.

New trial data published today involving 6,505 people in 37 countries including the UK shows that Procoralan can also cut the risk of death from all types of cardiovascular disease by 17 per cent. The drug, which is made by Servier, works by slowing the heart rate. Unlike other treatments, it lowers heartbeats per minute without lowering blood pressure.

Professor Cowie, said: “Heart failure is a very common problem, affecting approximately 1 per cent of the population. The decision to approve this new indication for ivabradine is great news for both doctors and patients, and is a significant step forward.”

Procoralan is set to revolutionise the lives of the 50 per cent of patients prevented from taking the standard treatment beta blockers because they either do not work or have unpleasant side effects.

Maureen Talbot, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “There are already several medicines available in the UK for treating heart failure, but some people’s condition and symptoms remain uncontrolled. Knowing doctors have another option to offer those patients whose condition is particularly difficult to treat is really positive news.”

Heart failure can be caused by conditions ranging from high blood pressure to heart disease. With more than 27,000 new cases each year, the incidence is 60 per cent higher in men.

New study shows green tea can reduce risk of cancer

The consumption of at least five daily cups of green tea was found in a ten-year study to reduce the risk of blood cancers by 42 per cent and lymph system cancers by 48 per cent.

The health benefits of drinking anti-oxidant rich green tea have been well documented, although they are more commonly associated with lowering the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

The new study, conducted by Tohoku University, analysed the age, gender, lifestyle and health of 40,000 Japanese over a ten-year period for a range of scientific research purposes.

In relation to green tea consumption, Dr Toru Naganuma concluded that drinking the beverage may have a favourable effect “for particular cancers”.

Dr Naganuma examined the impact of varying green tea levels on the health of the people taking part in the study in conjunction with examining their diets in the context of alcohol, soybean and fish consumption.


The results showed that the overall risk of blood cancers was reduced by 42 per cent among participants who drank five or more daily cups in comparison with those who drank one cup or less a day while the findings were 48 per cent lower in relation to lymph system cancers.

Green tea is a type of tea made solely with the leaves of Camellia sinensis that has undergone minimal oxidation during processing. Green tea originates from China and has become associated with many cultures in Asia from Japan to the Middle East. Recently, it has become more widespread in the West, where black tea is traditionally consumed. Many varieties of green tea have been created in countries where it is grown. These varieties can differ substantially due to variable growing conditions, processing and harvesting time.

Over the last few decades green tea has been subjected to many scientific and medical studies to determine the extent of its long-purported health benefits, with some evidence suggesting regular green tea drinkers may have lower chances of heart disease and developing certain types of cancer.