Pregnancy hormone may help treat heart failure

The hormone relaxin, which is produced during pregnancy, may be able to help patients with heart failure, scientists say.

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New research suggests that by giving patients with heart failure the pregnancy hormone relaxin, symptoms such as breathlessness may be relieved, reports the Telegraph.

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The hormone relaxin loosens tendons, boosts heart function and widens blood vessels in mums-to-be to help the body cope with the extra weight and blood required for their baby.

For the study, doctors in Brescia, Italy, treated 232 patients with relaxin or a dummy drug when they were admitted with symptoms of heart failure. They then followed them up at intervals during the next six months.

After the first five days, 50% of patients receiving relaxin showed improvement compared with just a third of those on the dummy drug.

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The most effective dose is now being tested more widely, said Professor Marco Metra, from the Cardiology Department of the University of Brescia, who conducted the research.

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