DALLAS, June 3 - Injections of immune globulin may enable adults with hearts severely damaged by acute cardiomyopathy to recover without heart transplants, according to results of a new study published in today's American Heart Association journal Circulation.
Nine of ten critically ill patients involved in the study at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center recovered, and are all completely functional at present, says Dennis McNamara, M.D., director of the cardiomyopathy clinic and head of the research project. Most of the patients, age 18 to 55, were awaiting heart transplantation. A 10th patient died before a complete infusion of immune globulin could be administered.
"All nine survivors are leading productive lives, although some still have milder forms of congestive heart failure," he says. "None has been re-hospitalized for congestive heart failure in the 20 months since the study concluded."
It was the first time for adult patients with acute cardiomyopathy to be treated with immune globulin, McNamara notes, but it had been used successfully in the past to treat a form of heart inflammation in children. Up to 50,000 adults each year -- many in their 20s and 30s - are victims of a type of acute cardiomyopathy associated with viral infections, and these individuals benefit most from immune globulin, says McNamara. "It just resets it the immune system, like rebooting your computers."
Clinical trials of immune globulin therapy are ongoing with results expected in mid-1998.
Media Advisory: Dr. McNamara can be reached at (412) 647-2703.