Finerenone treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes and diabetic kidney disease was linked to a significant drop in the incidence of new-onset atrial fibrillation as a prespecified, exploratory endpoint of the FIDELIO-DKD pivotal trial that randomized more than 5,700 patients.
Treatment with finerenone linked with a 29% relative reduction compared with placebo in incident cases of atrial fibrillation (AFib), Gerasimos Filippatos, MD, reported at the annual scientific sessions of the American College of Cardiology.
The absolute reduction was modest, a 1.3% reduction from the 4.5% incidence rate on placebo to a 3.2% rate on finerenone during a median 2.6 years of follow-up. Concurrently with the report, the results appeared online (J Am Coll Cardiol. 2021 May 17. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2021.04.079).
The analyses Filippatos presented also showed that whether or not patients had a history of AFib, there was no impact on either the primary benefit from finerenone treatment seen in FIDELIO-DKD, which was a significant 18% relative risk reduction compared with placebo in the combined rate of kidney failure, a 40% or greater decline from baseline in estimated glomerular filtration rate, or renal death.
Likewise, prior AFib status had no effect on the study’s key secondary endpoint, a significant 14% relative risk reduction in the combined rate of cardiovascular death, nonfatal MI, nonfatal stroke, or hospitalization for heart failure.
The primary results from FIDELIO-DKD (Efficacy and Safety of Finerenone in Subjects With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Diabetic Kidney Disease) appeared in a 2020 report (N Engl J Med. 2020 Dec 3;383;2219-29).
“Side Benefits Can Be Very Helpful”
“It’s important to know of finerenone’s benefits beyond the primary outcome of a trial because side benefits can be very helpful,” said Anne B. Curtis, MD, an electrophysiologist and professor and chair of medicine at the University of Buffalo (N.Y.) School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “It’s not a huge benefit, but this could be an added benefit for selected patients,” she said during a press briefing. “Background studies had shown favorable remodeling of the heart [by finerenone] that could affect AFib.”
Possible mitigating effects by finerenone on inflammation and fibrosis might also mediate the drug’s apparent effect on AFib, said Filippatos, professor of cardiology and director of the Heart Failure and Cardio-Oncology Clinic at Attikon University Hospital and the University of Athens.
He noted that additional data addressing a possible AFib effect of finerenone will emerge soon from the FIGARO-DKD trial, which enrolled patients similar to those in FIDELIO-DKD but with more moderate stages of kidney disease, and from the FINEARTS-HF trial, which is examining the effect of finerenone in patients with heart failure with an ejection fraction of at least 40%.
“Heart failure and AFib go together tightly. It’s worth studying this specifically, so we can see whether there is an impact of finerenone on patients with heart failure who may not necessarily have kidney disease or diabetes,” Curtis said.
The new findings reported by Filippatos “should be considered hypothesis generating. Until we have more information, upstream therapies, including mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists [MRAs, the umbrella drug class that includes finerenone], should be used in appropriate patient populations based on defined benefits with the hope they will also reduce the development of AFib and atrial flutter over time,” Gerald V. Naccarelli, MD, and coauthors wrote in an editorial that accompanied the report (J Am Coll Cardiol. 2021 May 17. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2021.04.080).
The FIDELIO-DKD trial randomized 5,734 patients at 913 sites in 48 countries, including 461 patients with a history of AFib. The observed link of finerenone treatment with a reduced incidence of AFib appeared consistent regardless of patients’ age, sex, race, their kidney characteristics at baseline, baseline levels of systolic blood pressure, serum potassium, body mass index, A1c, or use of glucose-lowering medications.
Finerenone belongs to a new class of MRAs that have a nonsteroidal structure, in contrast with the MRAs spironolactone and eplerenone. This means that finerenone does not produce steroidal-associated adverse effects linked with certain other MRAs, such as gynecomastia, and may also differ in other actions.
FIDELIO-DKD was sponsored by Bayer, the company developing finerenone. Filippatos has received lecture fees from or participated in the direction of trials on behalf of Bayer, as well as for Amgen, Boehringer Ingelheim, Medtronic, Novartis, Servier, and Vifor. Curtis is an adviser to and receives honoraria from St. Jude Medical, and receives honoraria from Medtronic. Naccarelli has been a consultant to Acesion, ARCA, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Milestone, Omeicos, and Sanofi. His coauthors had no disclosures.
American College of Cardiology (ACC) 2021 Scientific Session: Abstract 411-16. Presented May 17, 2021.