BiDil (Isosorbide Dinitrate and Hydralazine): A New Fixed-Dose Combination of Two Older Medications for the Treatment of Heart Failure in Black Patients

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BiDil is a new fixed-dose combination of 2 older medications, isosorbide dinitrate (ISDN) and hydralazine. ISDN is an organic nitrate that is biotransformed into nitric oxide, a potent vasodilator. Hydralazine is believed to have both vasodilatory properties specific to the arteries and antioxidant properties, which address both the biochemical alterations in the failing cardiovascular system as well as the issue of nitrate tolerance. A drug regimen combining an NO stimulator (ISDN) with an antioxidant (hydralazine) favorably influences the nitroso-redox balance. Retrospective analyses of previous heart failure (HF) clinical trials comparing the combination of ISDN and hydralazine with placebo and enalapril, respectively, demonstrated a benefit in the black population, setting the precedent for a race-based therapeutic study, the African-American Heart Failure Trial (A-HeFT). A-HeFT examined the use of BiDil added to standard HF therapy in blacks with New York Heart Association functional class III and IV HF. BiDil demonstrated a 43% reduction in mortality when compared with placebo. As a result, current evidence-based treatment guidelines recommend that the addition of ISDN and hydralazine in black patients with moderate to severe HF optimized on standard therapy be considered. BiDil is currently indicated for the treatment of HF as an adjunct to standard therapy in black patients. The use of BiDil for black patients with mild disease or in nonblack patients with HF has not been studied. Future clinical trials involving an ethnically and clinically diverse population of patients would further define the role of combined ISDN and hydralazine in the treatment of HF.

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