Long-term oral administration of amrinone for congestive heart failure: Lack of efficacy in a multicenter controlled trial

B. Massie, M. Bourassa, R. DiBianco, M. Hess, M. Konstam, M. Likoff, M. Packer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Scopus citations


A number of uncontrolled studies have indicated that oral administration of amrinone, a phosphodiesterase inhibitor with potent positive inotropic effects in experimental preparations, may be beneficial in patients with chronic congestive heart failure. The present multicenter trial was designed to prospectively evaluate clinical response and change in exercise tolerance during 12 weeks of amrinone therapy in a double-blind, placebo-controlled protocol. Ninety-nine patients with NYHA functional class 3 or 4 congestive heart failure on digitalis and diuretics, of whom 31 were also receiving captopril, were enrolled. After baseline clinical assessment and determination of exercise tolerance, radionuclide left ventricular ejection fraction, and roentgenographic cardiothoracic ratio, patients were randomly assigned to receive amrinone or placebo, beginning at 1.5 mg/kg tid and increasing to a maximum dosage of 200 mg tid. After 12 weeks of therapy or at the last blinded evaluation in patients who did not complete this protocol, there were no significant differences from baseline values between treatment with amrinone or placebo with regard to symptoms, NYHA functional class, left ventricular ejection fraction, cardiothoracic ratio, frequency and severity of ventricular ectopy, or mortality. Exercise tolerance improved significantly from baseline by 37 ± 10% (mean 163 sec) in patients on amrinone and 35 ± 11% (mean 149 sec) in patients on placebo, but there was no significant difference between treatments. Adverse reactions were significantly more frequent and more severe on amrinone, occurring in 83% of patients and necessitating withdrawal in 34%. Downward adjustment of amrinone dosage because of side effects was responsible for a significantly lower mean total daily dose of 355 vs 505 mg for placebo (P < .001). These findings indicate that oral administration of amrinone is not clinically effective in patients with chronic congestive heart failure, in part because of frequent adverse effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)963-971
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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