Study designs of evaluations included in the review
Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were eligible for inclusion. The sample sizes in the included studies ranged from 18 to 49.
Specific interventions included in the review
Studies that compared pentoxifylline with placebo were eligible for inclusion. The included studies used pentoxifylline 400 mg three times daily for between 1 and 6 months. Cointerventions included digoxin, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, carvedilol, diuretics, spironolactone and beta-blockers. All of the studies were conducted by the same group of researchers in South Africa.
Participants included in the review
Studies of patients of any age with a diagnosis of heart failure were eligible for inclusion. The included studies were in patients with heart failure due to idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (New York Heart Association, NYHA, class II to IV) and ischaemic cardiomyopathy (NYHA class I to IV). All of the studies were in patients of black African descent.
Outcomes assessed in the review
The review assessed the NYHA functional class, left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), frequency of hospitalisation and all-cause mortality.
How were decisions on the relevance of primary studies made?
Two reviewers independently conducted searches and identified potentially relevant studies. No other details were reported.