Cardiologist Milton Packer, M.D., Joins Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas

Research team publishes findings on new heart failure drugs that prolong patients’ lives

Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas announces the appointment of Milton Packer, M.D., as the new Distinguished Scholar in Cardiovascular Science.

Formerly with UT Southwestern Medical Center as the Chair for Clinical Sciences Department, Dr. Packer has served as an investigator for the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration in heart failure, cardiovascular research, and drug developments that led to significant recognition throughout his 40-year career.

His research established the cornerstone of the current modern treatments for heart failure, for which he was the recipient of the Lewis Katz lifetime achievement award in cardiovascular research. He is also widely recognized for his outstanding leadership abilities, having led the Division of Circulatory Physiology at Columbia University for 12 years, which he built into the nation's most outstanding research group devoted to heart failure. He has been the principal investigator of more than 15 large international multicenter trials.

On the heels of this appointment, Dr. Packer is the principal investigator of a trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) today showing new evidence about a major breakthrough in the medication management and treatment of heart failure patients. The updated study information and analysis builds upon the team's earlier research about Angiotensin Receptor Neprilysin inhibitor (ARNi) category of drugs.

Results from the earlier study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine in September 2014, showed that use of ARNi drugs could result in a 20% reduction in mortality risk for heart failure patients. This latest report states that, on average, after using these drugs, patients could anticipate living 1.5 to 2 years longer. This study quantifies the 20 percent reduction mortality risk into actual years of life.

"When we tell patients that their cardiovascular mortality is reduced by 20 percent, that's a very hard thing for them to understand," Dr. Packer said. "We wanted to do a more meaningful analysis. We wanted to do an analysis where someone could ask their physician: ‘If I take this new drug, compared with standard of care, how much longer will I live?"

The study results showed ARNi drugs prolonged life for heart failure patients to a meaningful degree, he said.

"In general, we celebrate cancer drugs when they prolong life by weeks or a couple of months," he said. "That's what made this so exciting. On average, their life was prolonged by 1.5 to 2 years. That's an extraordinary finding. That's a result we haven't seen in previous cardiovascular trials."

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