The eplerenone post-acute myocardial infarction heart failure efficacy and survival study (EPHESUS) was a multinational, multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study in patients clinically stable 3 to 14 days after an acute MI with LV dysfunction (as measured by left ventricular ejection fraction [LVEF] ≤40%) and either diabetes or clinical evidence of HF (pulmonary congestion by exam or chest x-ray or S3 ). Patients with HF of valvular or congenital etiology, patients with unstable post-infarct angina, and patients with serum potassium >5.0 mEq/L or serum creatinine >2.5 mg/dL were to be excluded. Patients were allowed to receive standard post-MI drug therapy and to undergo revascularization by angioplasty or coronary artery bypass graft surgery.
Patients randomized to eplerenone were given an initial dose of 25 mg once daily and titrated to the target dose of 50 mg once daily after 4 weeks if serum potassium was <5.0 mEq/L. Dosage was reduced or suspended anytime during the study if serum potassium levels were ≥5.5 mEq/L [see Dosage and Administration (2.1)].
EPHESUS randomized 6,632 patients (9.3% U.S.) at 671 centers in 27 countries. The study population was primarily white (90%, with 1% Black, 1% Asian, 6% Hispanic, 2% other) and male (71%). The mean age was 64 years (range, 22 to 94 years). The majority of patients had pulmonary congestion (75%) by exam or x-ray and were Killip Class II (64%). The mean ejection fraction was 33%. The average time to enrollment was 7 days post-MI. Medical histories prior to the index MI included hypertension (60%), coronary artery disease (62%), dyslipidemia (48%), angina (41%), type 2 diabetes (30%), previous MI (27%), and HF (15%).
The mean dose of eplerenone was 43 mg/day. Patients also received standard care including aspirin (92%), ACE inhibitors (90%), beta-blockers (83%), nitrates (72%), loop diuretics (66%), or HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (60%).
Patients were followed for an average of 16 months (range, 0 to 33 months). The ascertainment rate for vital status was 99.7%.
The co-primary endpoints for EPHESUS were (1) the time to death from any cause, and (2) the time to first occurrence of either cardiovascular mortality [defined as sudden cardiac death or death due to progression of HF, stroke, or other CV causes] or CV hospitalization (defined as hospitalization for progression of HF, ventricular arrhythmias, acute MI, or stroke).
For the co-primary endpoint for death from any cause, there were 478 deaths in the eplerenone group (14.4%) and 554 deaths in the placebo group (16.7%). The risk of death with eplerenone was reduced by 15% [hazard ratio equal to 0.85 (95% confidence interval 0.75 to 0.96; p=0.008 by log rank test)]. Kaplan-Meier estimates of all-cause mortality are shown in Figure 1 and the components of mortality are provided in Table 5.
Figure 1. Kaplan-Meier Estimates of All-Cause Mortality
Death from any cause
Unknown or unwitnessed death
Most CV deaths were attributed to sudden death, acute MI, and HF.
The time to first event for the co-primary endpoint of CV death or hospitalization, as defined above, was longer in the eplerenone group (hazard ratio 0.87, 95% confidence interval 0.79 to 0.95, p=0.002). An analysis that included the time to first occurrence of CV mortality and all CV hospitalizations (atrial arrhythmia, angina, CV procedures, progression of HF, MI, stroke, ventricular arrhythmia, or other CV causes) showed a smaller effect with a hazard ratio of 0.92 (95% confidence interval 0.86 to 0.99; p=0.028). The combined endpoints, including combined all-cause hospitalization and mortality were driven primarily by CV mortality. The combined endpoints in EPHESUS, including all-cause hospitalization and all-cause mortality, are presented in Table 6.
CV death or hospitalization for progression of HF, stroke, MI or ventricular arrhythmia *
CV death or hospitalization for progression of HF, stroke, MI, ventricular arrhythmia, atrial arrhythmia, angina, CV procedures, or other CV causes (PVD; Hypotension)
All-cause death or hospitalization
Mortality hazard ratios varied for some subgroups as shown in Figure 2. Mortality hazard ratios appeared favorable for eplerenone for both genders and for all races or ethnic groups, although the numbers of non-Caucasians were low (648, 10%). Patients with diabetes without clinical evidence of HF and patients greater than 75 years did not appear to benefit from the use of eplerenone. Such subgroup analyses must be interpreted cautiously.
Figure 2. Hazard Ratios of All-Cause Mortality by Subgroups
Analyses conducted for a variety of CV biomarkers did not confirm a mechanism of action by which mortality was reduced.
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