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Long-Term Effect of Endothelin Receptor Antagonism With Bosentan on the Morbidity and Mortality of Patients With Severe Chronic Heart Failure: Primary Results of the ENABLE Trials.

OBJECTIVES: The objective of this clinical trial was to evaluate the long-term effect of endothelin receptor antagonism with bosentan on the morbidity and mortality of patients with severe chronic heart failure.

BACKGROUND: Endothelin may play a role in heart failure, but short-term clinical trials with endothelin receptor antagonists have reported disappointing results. Long-term trials are lacking.

METHODS: In 2 identical double-blind trials, we randomly assigned 1,613 patients with New York Heart Association functional class IIIb to IV heart failure and an ejection fraction <35% to receive placebo or bosentan (target dose 125 mg twice daily) for a median of 1.5 years. The primary outcome for each trial was clinical status at 9 months (assessed by the hierarchical clinical composite); the primary outcome across the 2 trials was death from any cause or hospitalization for heart failure.

RESULTS: Bosentan did not influence clinical status at 9 months in either trial (p = 0.928 and p = 0.263). In addition, 321 patients in the placebo group and 312 patients in the bosentan group died or were hospitalized for heart failure (hazard ratio [HR]: 1.01; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.86 to 1.18; p = 0.90). The bosentan group experienced fluid retention within the first 2 to 4 weeks, as evidenced by increased peripheral edema, weight gain, decreases in hemoglobin, and an increased risk of hospitalization for heart failure, despite intensification of background diuretics. During follow-up, 173 patients died in the placebo group and 160 patients died in the bosentan group (HR: 0.94; 95% CI: 0.75 to 1.16). About 10% of the bosentan group showed meaningful increases in hepatic transaminases, but none had acute or chronic liver failure.

CONCLUSIONS: Bosentan did not improve the clinical course or natural history of patients with severe chronic heart failure and but caused early and important fluid retention.

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