An international clinical trial shows the benefits of a drug in patients hospitalized with acute cardiac dysfunction

  • Such drug is empagliflozin, an existing pharmaceutical for the treatment of diabetes 2 and chronic heart failure.
  • The Cardiovascular Diseases research group of IDIBELL and the Bellvitge University Hospital have coordinated the study in Spain.
1- Umico

According to the results of the EMPULSE phase III clinical trial, patients admitted for acute heart failure are 36% more likely to experience improvement within 90 days of receiving treatment with empagliflozin, an existing drug that is mostly prescribed for type 2 diabetes. Dr. Josep Comin, head of the Cardiovascular Disease research group and head of the Cardiology Service at Bellvitge Hospital, has been the state coordinator of the trial, which counted on the participation of professionals and centers from 17 countries around the world.

The study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, involved 530 hospitalized patients who were stabilized after suffering from acute heart failure. A combined assessment of mortality, hospitalizations, and quality of life over 90 days was used to evaluate the improvement in treatment with empaglifozine, comparing between the group receiving the drug and the one receiving a placebo.

According to Dr. Josep Comin, “Hospitalization is a very fragile time for a patient with acute heart failure and at the same time we can get the most out of preventing new adverse events. In this sense, the results of the study may change the clinical practice with these patients.”

Empagliflozin is a highly selective inhibitor of glucose-sodium 2 transporters (SGLT2). In patients with type 2 diabetes, this inhibitor prevents the absorption of blood glucose into the kidney, lowering blood glucose levels. In addition to its use for diabetes 2, empagliflozin is also approved in Europe and the United States for the treatment of chronic HF with reduced ejection fraction (the heart fails to pump enough blood with each contraction). Until now, however, its benefits during hospitalization for acute heart failure have not been evaluated.

According to data from the Spanish Society of Cardiology, the state has more than 107,000 hospital admissions per year caused by heart failure, and it is the leading cause of hospitalization in people over 65 years.

Professionals and centers from the Netherlands, Germany, the United States, Australia, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, China, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Hungary, Japan, the Czech Republic, Italy, Canada and Spain took part in the EMPULSE phase three and multicenter clinical trial. The study is part of the EMPOWER program jointly run by Boehringer Ingelheim laboratories and Eli Lilly and Company.



The Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) is a biomedical research center created in 2004. It is participated by the Bellvitge University Hospital and the Viladecans Hospital of the Catalan Institute of Health, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, the University of Barcelona and the City Council of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.

IDIBELL is a member of the Campus of International Excellence of the University of Barcelona HUBc and is part of the CERCA institution of the Generalitat de Catalunya. In 2009 it became one of the first five Spanish research centers accredited as a health research institute by the Carlos III Health Institute. In addition, it is part of the “HR Excellence in Research” program of the European Union and is a member of EATRIS and REGIC. Since 2018, IDIBELL has been an Accredited Center of the AECC Scientific Foundation (FCAECC).

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