Heart :: Harvard researcher wins prize for identifying destructive heart changes

The American Heart Association awarded its Clinical Research Prize to a Harvard researcher for identifying destructive structural changes in the diseased heart and leading clinical trials showing that lifesaving therapies can limit damage.

Marc Alan Pfeffer, M.D., Ph.D., Dzau Professor of Medicine at Harvard and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, received the award during the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2007 at the Orange County Convention Center.

“Dr. Pfeffer’s trailblazing investigations exponentially expanded our knowledge of the damage that hypertension and heart attacks inflict on cardiac muscle tissue, and what can be done to overcome this damage,” said Daniel Jones, M.D., American Heart Association president, who presented the $5,000 prize recognizing major achievement in clinical cardiovascular science.

Dr. Pfeffer’s demonstration of adverse structural changes in the heart — a process called ventricular remodeling — “opened the way to highly effective treatment approaches designed to reverse this destructive process,” Jones said.

After showing that ventricular remodeling leads to potentially fatal heart failure, Pfeffer led the first major clinical trial establishing that angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors can slow or reverse these adverse structural changes. The Survival and Ventricular Enlargement (SAVE) trial demonstrated the efficacy of ACE inhibitors to treat acute heart attack and chronic heart failure.

“This historic trial paved the way for numerous other investigations expanding and elaborating on the effective use of these medications to improve survival and reduce morbidity,” Jones said.

Pfeffer, who leads a large clinical research department, is principal investigator of international trials testing novel approaches to reduce cardiovascular risk.

— Article compiled by Dr. Beenu from medical news release.

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