Digoxin is the oldest, market-authorized drug for heart failure (HF), and very cheap. A large trial with digoxin, the DIG trial, executed in the early nineties revealed a highly significant reduction in HF hospitalizations, but no effect on mortality. A post-hoc analysis of the DIG trial suggests that low serum concentrations of digoxin may not only improve HF hospitalizations but also mortality in chronic HF patients. To validate these findings, a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled trial is required to redefine the role of digoxin in modern HF treatment.

The Focus
The primary objective of this study is to investigate whether low-level digoxin (targeting serum concentrations of 0.5-0.9 ng/mL), compared to a placebo, reduces (repeated) HF hospitalizations, (repeated) urgent HF hospital visits, and cardiovascular mortality when added to standard guideline-recommended therapies in chronic HF patients with reduced or mid-range ejection fractions (LVEF ≤50%).

The Research

This proposed trial is a national, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial involving 982 chronic HF patients aged ≥18 years, classified as NYHA II to ambulatory IV, LVEF ≤50%, and specific serum NT-proBNP concentrations based on rhythm and recent HF hospitalization status. Patients must also be on guideline-recommended therapies. The study population includes at least one-third with atrial fibrillation (AF) and one-third women to represent the real-life HF population.

Patients were randomized to receive either a low-level digoxin or a placebo in a double-blinded manner. Digoxin Teva will be administered orally, starting at doses of 0.2mg or 0.1mg (based on age, renal function, and concomitant medication). No loading dose is given to the placebo group. After 4 weeks of evaluating medication (digoxin or placebo), concentrations will be measured. Dose adjustments will be made if needed to reach the target serum digoxin concentration range of 0.5-0.9ng/mL.

The outcomes in reducing adverse cardiovascular events in patients with chronic heart failure of low-dose digoxin will be compared to the outcomes of the placebo.

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Contact person:

Nicoline Smit

Principal investigators

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The IN-CONTROL II consortium builds upon the success of IN-CONTROL I, which highlighted the pivotal role of the microbiome in low-grade inflammation associated with atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and related risk factors such as lipid levels and microbiome-derived metabolites. These insights are crucial for addressing the rising rates of CVD-related mortality, particularly in aging and overweight populations. The Focus The objectives of IN-CONTROL II are to: Investigate the mechanisms underlying trained immunity in CVD patients, considering factors like senescence, age, sex, and obesity. Elucidate the interactions between microbiome-derived signals (aromatic amino acids, metabolites, bile acids) and immune senescence in obesity-related cardio-metabolic diseases. Identify novel therapeutic targets and develop pharmacological and microbiome-based therapies to counteract inappropriate induction of trained immunity and inflammation in cardiovascular disease. The Research The consortium aims to shift from association to causality, from population-based cohorts to patient groups with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD) and from observation to intervention. In this transition, it will also take advantage of recent developments in the network of the consortium, delineating cellular senescence as a druggable target for the broad spectrum of age-related chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, and identification of components of the bile acid-signaling system for this purpose. Another recent development of the recognition of innate immune memory (‘trained immunity’) as pathophysiological mechanism in atherosclerotic CVD. The consortium will conduct proof-of-principle trials in specific patient cohorts, employing advanced experimental techniques such as systems biology, single cell sequencing, innovative animal models, and metabolic flux quantification (fluxomics). A talent program will facilitate knowledge transfer and skill development for young researchers within the consortium, emphasizing rapid translation of research findings into clinical applications.
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The successful treatment of congenital heart disease (ConHD) has greatly increased the survival of children with this condition. Many of these defects require surgical or catheter interventions immediately after birth. However, complete restoration of the defect is often unachievable, a high risk of developing heart failure, arrhythmias, sudden cardiac death or blood vessel dilatation or stenosis relatively early in life. Currently, there is a lack of personalized risk predictors and optimal clinical decision tools, highlighting an unmet need to develop new effective strategies for treating and preventing ventricular failure, arrhythmias, and large vessel diseases. The Focus The OUTREACH consortium focuses on specific types of congenital heart diseases (ConHD) related to outflow tract defects, such as transposition of the great arteries, congenital aortic stenosis, and tetralogy of Fallot, which collectively account for over half of all ConHD cases. The goal of OUTREACH is to reduce the risk of mortality and morbidity and improve the quality of life for these patients (both children and adults) by improving follow-up practices based on outcomes, implementing personalized risk assessment tools, and advancing therapeutic strategies. The Research The OUTREACH consortium integrates expertise in preclinical research, developmental biology, disease modeling, and clinical research from academic centers specializing in pediatric and adult congenital cardiology and surgery. Its objectives are: identifying better parameters for risk assessment and early detection of heart failure or ventricular arrhythmias in ConHD patients with outflow tract defects. Exploring efficient treatments to enhance adaptation and prevent heart failure and vascular damage in at-risk ConHD patients. This consortium conducts extensive research involving a large cohort of ConHD patients to unravel the underlying causes and mechanisms of cardiac adaptations following surgical interventions. It investigates the molecular mechanisms responsible for outflow tract defects and evaluates whether stimulating heart regeneration in ConHD models can mitigate adverse remodeling and heart failure. Additionally, the consortium explores new non-invasive imaging techniques and blood-derived biomarkers to develop innovative risk analysis tools for clinical decision-making. In OUTREACH a nationwide registry is created for all patients (children and adults) with ConHD in the Netherlands by harmonizing existing registries KinCor and ConCor. This is an important step towards optimizing the quality of care for the ConHD population and fostering scientific research on ConHD.
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