2013 ACCF/AHA Guideline for the Management of Heart Failure
A Report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines
- Table of Contents
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Definition of HF
- 3. HF Classifications
- 4. Epidemiology
- 5. Cardiac Structural Abnormalities and Other Causes of HF
- 6. Initial and Serial Evaluation of the HF Patient
- 7. Treatment of Stages A to D
- Class I
- Class IIa
- Class IIb
- Class III: Harm
- 188.8.131.52. Beta Blockers: Recommendation
- Class IIa
- 184.108.40.206. Other Drug Treatment
- 7.4. Stage D
- 8. The Hospitalized Patient
- 9. Important Comorbidities in HF
- 10. Surgical/Percutaneous/Transcatheter Interventional Treatments of HF: Recommendations
- 13. Evidence Gaps and Future Research Directions
- Presidents and Staff
- Appendix 1.
- Appendix 2.
- Appendix 3.
- Figures & Tables
- Supplemental Materials
- Info & Metrics
- AHA Scientific Statements
- cardio-renal physiology/pathophysiology
- congestive heart failure
- CV surgery: transplantation, ventricular assistance, cardiomyopathy
- health policy and outcome research
- heart failure
- other heart failure
Table of Contents
1. Introduction e245
1.1. Methodology and Evidence Review e245
1.2. Organization of the Writing Committee e245
1.3. Document Review and Approval e245
1.4. Scope of This Guideline With Reference to Other Relevant Guidelines or Statements e245
2. Definition of HF e246
2.1. HF With Reduced EF (HFrEF) e247
2.2. HF With Preserved EF (HFpEF) e247
3. HF Classifications e247
4. Epidemiology e248
4.1. Mortality e248
4.2. Hospitalizations e248
4.3. Asymptomatic LV Dysfunction e248
4.4. Health-Related Quality of Life and Functional Status e249
4.5. Economic Burden of HF e249
4.6. Important Risk Factors for HF (Hypertension, Diabetes Mellitus, Metabolic Syndrome, and Atherosclerotic Disease) e249
5. Cardiac Structural Abnormalities and Other Causes of HF e249
5.1. Dilated Cardiomyopathies e249
5.1.1. Definition and Classification of Dilated Cardiomyopathies e249
5.1.2. Epidemiology and Natural History of DCM e250
5.2. Familial Cardiomyopathies e250
5.3. Endocrine and Metabolic Causes of Cardiomyopathy e250
5.3.1. Obesity e250
5.3.2. Diabetic Cardiomyopathy e250
5.3.3. Thyroid Disease e250
5.3.4. Acromegaly and Growth Hormone Deficiency e250
5.4. Toxic Cardiomyopathy e251
5.4.1. Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy e251
5.4.2. Cocaine Cardiomyopathy e251
5.4.3. Cardiotoxicity Related to Cancer Therapies e251
5.4.4. Other Myocardial Toxins and Nutritional Causes of Cardiomyopathy e251
5.5. Tachycardia-Induced Cardiomyopathy e251
5.6. Myocarditis and Cardiomyopathies Due to Inflammation e251
5.6.1. Myocarditis e251
5.6.2. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome e252
5.6.3. Chagas Disease e252
5.7. Inflammation-Induced Cardiomyopathy: Noninfectious Causes e252
5.7.1. Hypersensitivity Myocarditis e252
5.7.2. Rheumatological/Connective Tissue Disorders e252
5.8. Peripartum Cardiomyopathy e252
5.9. Cardiomyopathy Caused By Iron Overload e252
5.10. Amyloidosis e252
5.11. Cardiac Sarcoidosis e253
5.12. Stress (Takotsubo) Cardiomyopathy e253
6. Initial and Serial Evaluation of the HF Patient e253
6.1. Clinical Evaluation e253
6.1.1. History and Physical Examination: Recommendations e253
6.1.2. Risk Scoring: Recommendation e253
6.2. Diagnostic Tests: Recommendations e253
6.3. Biomarkers: Recommendations e255
6.3.1. Natriuretic Peptides: BNP or NT-proBNP e256
6.3.2. Biomarkers of Myocardial Injury: Cardiac Troponin T or I e256
6.3.3. Other Emerging Biomarkers e256
6.4. Noninvasive Cardiac Imaging: Recommendations e256
6.5. Invasive Evaluation: Recommendations e258
6.5.1. Right-Heart Catheterization e259
6.5.2. Left-Heart Catheterization e259
6.5.3. Endomyocardial Biopsy e260
7. Treatment of Stages A to D e260
7.1. Stage A: Recommendations e260
7.1.1. Recognition and Treatment of Elevated Blood Pressure e260
7.1.2. Treatment of Dyslipidemia and Vascular Risk e260
7.1.3. Obesity and Diabetes Mellitus e260
7.1.4. Recognition and Control of Other Conditions That May Lead to HF e260
7.2. Stage B: Recommendations e261
7.2.1. Management Strategies for Stage B e262
7.3. Stage C e262
7.3.1. Nonpharmacological Interventions e262
220.127.116.11. Education: Recommendation e262
18.104.22.168. Social Support e263
22.214.171.124. Sodium Restriction: Recommendation e263
126.96.36.199. Treatment of Sleep Disorders: Recommendation e263
188.8.131.52. Weight Loss e263
184.108.40.206. Activity, Exercise Prescription, and Cardiac Rehabilitation: Recommendations e264
7.3.2. Pharmacological Treatment for Stage C HFrEF: Recommendations e264
220.127.116.11. Diuretics: Recommendation e265
18.104.22.168. ACE Inhibitors: Recommendation e265
22.214.171.124. ARBs: Recommendations e267
126.96.36.199. Beta Blockers: Recommendation e267
188.8.131.52. Aldosterone Receptor Antagonists: Recommendations e268
184.108.40.206. Hydralazine and Isosorbide Dinitrate: Recommendations e270
220.127.116.11. Digoxin: Recommendation e271
18.104.22.168. Other Drug Treatment e271
22.214.171.124.1. Anticoagulation: Recommendations e271
126.96.36.199.2. Statins: Recommendation e272
188.8.131.52.3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Recommendation e272
184.108.40.206. Drugs of Unproven Value or That May Worsen HF: Recommendations e273
220.127.116.11.1. Nutritional Supplements and Hormonal Therapies e273
18.104.22.168.2. Antiarrhythmic Agents e273
22.214.171.124.3. Calcium Channel Blockers: Recommendation e273
126.96.36.199.4. Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs e274
188.8.131.52.5. Thiazolidinediones e274
7.3.3. Pharmacological Treatment for Stage C HFpEF: Recommendations e274
7.3.4. Device Therapy for Stage C HFrEF: Recommendations e274
184.108.40.206. Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator e278
220.127.116.11. Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy e279
7.4. Stage D e280
7.4.1. Definition of Advanced HF e280
7.4.2. Important Considerations in Determining If the Patient Is Refractory e280
7.4.3. Water Restriction: Recommendation e280
7.4.4. Inotropic Support: Recommendations e281
7.4.5. Mechanical Circulatory Support: Recommendations e282
7.4.6. Cardiac Transplantation: Recommendation e283
8. The Hospitalized Patient e284
8.1. Classification of Acute Decompensated HF e284
8.2. Precipitating Causes of Decompensated HF: Recommendations e285
8.3. Maintenance of GDMT During Hospitalization: Recommendations e286
8.4. Diuretics in Hospitalized Patients: Recommendations e286
8.5. Renal Replacement Therapy—Ultrafiltration: Recommendations e287
8.6. Parenteral Therapy in Hospitalized HF: Recommendation e287
8.7. Venous Thromboembolism Prophylaxis in Hospitalized Patients: Recommendation e288
8.8. Arginine Vasopressin Antagonists: Recommendation e288
8.9. Inpatient and Transitions of Care: Recommendations e288
9. Important Comorbidities in HF e290
9.1. Atrial Fibrillation e290
9.2. Anemia e293
9.3. Depression e293
9.4. Other Multiple Comorbidities e293
10. Surgical/Percutaneous/Transcatheter Interventional Treatments of HF: Recommendations e293
11. Coordinating Care for Patients With Chronic HF e295
11.1. Coordinating Care for Patients With Chronic HF: Recommendations e295
11.2. Systems of Care to Promote Care Coordination for Patients With Chronic HF e296
11.3. Palliative Care for Patients With HF e296
12. Quality Metrics/Performance Measures: Recommendations e296
13. Evidence Gaps and Future Research Directions e299
Appendix 1. Author Relationships With Industry and Other Entities (Relevant) e320
Appendix 2. Reviewer Relationships With Industry and Other Entities (Relevant) e323
Appendix 3. Abbreviations e327
The medical profession should play a central role in evaluating the evidence related to drugs, devices, and procedures for the detection, management, and prevention of disease. When properly applied, expert analysis of available data on the benefits and risks of these therapies and procedures can improve the quality of care, optimize patient outcomes, and favorably affect costs by focusing resources on the most effective strategies. An organized and directed approach to a thorough review of evidence has resulted in the production of clinical practice guidelines that assist clinicians in selecting the best management strategy for an individual patient. Moreover, clinical practice guidelines can provide a foundation for other applications, such as performance measures, appropriate use criteria, and both quality improvement and clinical decision support tools.
The American College of Cardiology Foundation (ACCF) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have jointly produced guidelines in the area of cardiovascular disease since 1980. The ACCF/AHA Task Force on Practice Guidelines (Task Force), charged with developing, updating, and revising practice guidelines for cardiovascular diseases and procedures, directs and oversees this effort. Writing committees are charged with regularly reviewing and evaluating all available evidence to develop balanced, patient-centric recommendations for clinical practice.
Experts in the subject under consideration are selected by the ACCF and AHA to examine subject-specific data and write guidelines in partnership with representatives from other medical organizations and specialty groups. Writing committees are asked to perform a literature review; weigh the strength of evidence for or against particular tests, treatments, or procedures; and include estimates of expected outcomes where such data exist. Patient-specific modifiers, comorbidities, and issues of patient preference that may influence the choice of tests or therapies are considered. When available, information from studies on cost is considered, but data on efficacy and outcomes constitute the primary basis for the recommendations contained herein.
In analyzing the data and developing recommendations and supporting text, the writing committee uses evidence-based methodologies developed by the Task Force.1 The Class of Recommendation (COR) is an estimate of the size of the treatment effect considering risks versus benefits in addition to evidence and/or agreement that a given treatment or procedure is or is not useful/effective or in some situations may cause harm. The Level of Evidence (LOE) is an estimate of the certainty or precision of the treatment effect. The writing committee reviews and ranks evidence supporting each recommendation with the weight of evidence ranked as LOE A, B, or C according to specific definitions that are included in Table 1. Studies are identified as observational, retrospective, prospective, or randomized where appropriate. For certain conditions for which inadequate data are available, recommendations are based on expert consensus and clinical experience and are ranked as LOE C. When recommendations at LOE C are supported by historical clinical data, appropriate references (including clinical reviews) are cited if available. For issues for which sparse data are available, a survey of current practice among the clinicians on the writing committee is the basis for LOE C recommendations and no references are cited. The schema for COR and LOE are summarized in Table 1, which also provides suggested phrases for writing recommendations within each COR. A new addition to this methodology is separation of the Class III recommendations to delineate whether the recommendation is determined to be of “no benefit” or is associated with “harm” to the patient. In addition, in view of the increasing number of comparative effectiveness studies, comparator verbs and suggested phrases for writing recommendations for the comparative effectiveness of one treatment or strategy versus another have been added for COR I and IIa, LOE A or B only.
In view of the advances in medical therapy across the spectrum of cardiovascular diseases, the Task Force has designated the term guideline-directed medical therapy (GDMT) to represent optimal medical therapy as defined by ACCF/AHA guideline–recommended therapies (primarily Class I). This new term, GDMT, will be used herein and throughout all future guidelines.
Because the ACCF/AHA practice guidelines address patient populations (and clinicians) residing in North America, drugs that are not currently available in North America are discussed in the text without a specific COR. For studies performed in large numbers of subjects outside North America, each writing committee reviews the potential influence of different practice patterns and patient populations on the treatment effect and relevance to the ACCF/AHA target population to determine whether the findings should inform a specific recommendation.
The ACCF/AHA practice guidelines are intended to assist clinicians in clinical decision making by describing a range of generally acceptable approaches to the diagnosis, management, and prevention of specific diseases or conditions. The guidelines attempt to define practices that meet the needs of most patients in most circumstances. The ultimate judgment regarding care of a particular patient must be made by the clinician and patient in light of all the circumstances presented by that patient. As a result, situations may arise for which deviations from these guidelines may be appropriate. Clinical decision making should involve consideration of the quality and availability of expertise in the area where care is provided. When these guidelines are used as the basis for regulatory or payer decisions, the goal should be improvement in quality of care. The Task Force recognizes that situations arise in which additional data are needed to inform patient care more effectively; these areas will be identified within each respective guideline when appropriate.
Prescribed courses of treatment in accordance with these recommendations are effective only if followed. Because lack of patient understanding and adherence may adversely affect outcomes, clinicians should make every effort to engage the patient’s active participation in prescribed medical regimens and lifestyles. In addition, patients should be informed of the risks, benefits, and alternatives to a particular treatment and be involved in shared decision making whenever feasible, particularly for COR IIa and IIb, for which the benefit-to-risk ratio may be lower.
The Task Force makes every effort to avoid actual, potential, or perceived conflicts of interest that may arise as a result of industry relationships or personal interests among the members of the writing committee. All writing committee members and peer reviewers of the guideline are required to disclose all current healthcare-related relationships, including those existing 12 months before initiation of the writing effort. In December 2009, the ACCF and AHA implemented a new policy for relationship with industry and other entities (RWI) that requires the writing committee chair plus a minimum of 50% of the writing committee to have no relevant RWI (Appendix 1 includes the ACCF/AHA definition of relevance). These statements are reviewed by the Task Force and all members during each conference call and/or meeting of the writing committee and are updated as changes occur. All guideline recommendations require a confidential vote by the writing committee and must be approved by a consensus of the voting members. Members are not permitted to draft or vote on any text or recommendations pertaining to their RWI. Members who recused themselves from voting are indicated in the list of writing committee members, and specific section recusals are noted in Appendix 1. Authors’ and peer reviewers’ RWI pertinent to this guideline are disclosed in Appendixes 1 and 2, respectively. Additionally, to ensure complete transparency, writing committee members’ comprehensive disclosure information—including RWI not pertinent to this document—is available as an online supplement. Comprehensive disclosure information for the Task Force is also available online at http://www.cardiosource.org/en/ACC/About-ACC/Who-We-Are/Leadership/Guidelines-and-Documents-Task-Forces.aspx. The work of writing committees is supported exclusively by the ACCF and AHA without commercial support. Writing committee members volunteered their time for this activity.
In an effort to maintain relevance at the point of care for practicing clinicians, the Task Force continues to oversee an ongoing process improvement initiative. As a result, in response to pilot projects, several changes to these guidelines will be apparent, including limited narrative text, a focus on summary and evidence tables (with references linked to abstracts in PubMed), and more liberal use of summary recommendation tables (with references that support LOE) to serve as a quick reference.
In April 2011, the Institute of Medicine released 2 reports: Clinical Practice Guidelines We Can Trust and Finding What Works in Health Care: Standards for Systematic Reviews.2,3 It is noteworthy that the ACCF/AHA practice guidelines are cited as being compliant with many of the proposed standards. A thorough review of these reports and of our current methodology is under way, with further enhancements anticipated.
The recommendations in this guideline are considered current until they are superseded by a focused update or the full-text guideline is revised. Guidelines are official policy of both the ACCF and AHA.
Jeffrey L. Anderson, MD, FACC, FAHA
Chair, ACCF/AHA Task Force on Practice Guidelines
1.1. Methodology and Evidence Review
The recommendations listed in this document are, whenever possible, evidence based. An extensive evidence review was conducted through October 2011 and includes selected other references through April 2013. Searches were extended to studies, reviews, and other evidence conducted in human subjects and that were published in English from PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Reports, and other selected databases relevant to this guideline. Key search words included but were not limited to the following: heart failure, cardiomyopathy, quality of life, mortality, hospitalizations, prevention, biomarkers, hypertension, dyslipidemia, imaging, cardiac catheterization, endomyocardial biopsy, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin-receptor antagonists/blockers, beta blockers, cardiac, cardiac resynchronization therapy, defibrillator, device-based therapy, implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, device implantation, medical therapy, acute decompensated heart failure, preserved ejection fraction, terminal care and transplantation, quality measures, and performance measures. Additionally, the committee reviewed documents related to the subject matter previously published by the ACCF and AHA. References selected and published in this document are representative and not all-inclusive.
To provide clinicians with a representative evidence base, whenever deemed appropriate or when published, the absolute risk difference and number needed to treat or harm are provided in the guideline (within tables), along with confidence intervals and data related to the relative treatment effects such as odds ratio, relative risk, hazard ratio, and incidence rate ratio.
1.2. Organization of the Writing Committee
The committee was composed of physicians and a nurse with broad expertise in the evaluation, care, and management of patients with heart failure (HF). The authors included general cardiologists, HF and transplant specialists, electrophysiologists, general internists, and physicians with methodological expertise. The committee included representatives from the ACCF, AHA, American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Physicians, Heart Rhythm Society, and International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation.
1.3. Document Review and Approval
This document was reviewed by 2 official reviewers each nominated by both the ACCF and the AHA, as well as 1 to 2 reviewers each from the American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Chest Physicians, Heart Rhythm Society, and International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation, as well as 32 individual content reviewers (including members of the ACCF Adult Congenital and Pediatric Cardiology Council, ACCF Cardiovascular Team Council, ACCF Council on Cardiovascular Care for Older Adults, ACCF Electrophysiology Committee, ACCF Heart Failure and Transplant Council, ACCF Imaging Council, ACCF Prevention Committee, ACCF Surgeons’ Scientific Council, and ACCF Task Force on Appropriate Use Criteria). All information on reviewers’ RWI was distributed to the writing committee and is published in this document (Appendix 2).
This document was approved for publication by the governing bodies of the ACCF and AHA and endorsed by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, American College of Chest Physicians, Heart Rhythm Society, and International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation.
1.4. Scope of This Guideline With Reference to Other Relevant Guidelines or Statements
This guideline covers multiple management issues for the adult patient with HF. Although there is an abundance of evidence addressing HF, for many important clinical considerations, this writing committee was unable to identify sufficient data to properly inform a recommendation. The writing committee actively worked to reduce the number of LOE “C” recommendations, especially for Class I−recommended therapies. Despite these limitations, it is apparent that much can be done for HF. Adherence to the clinical practice guidelines herein reproduced should lead to improved patient outcomes.Although of increasing importance, HF in children and congenital heart lesions in adults are not specifically addressed in this guideline. The reader is referred to publically available resources to address questions in these areas. However, this guideline does address HF with preserved ejection fraction (EF) in more detail and similarly revisits hospitalized HF. Additional areas of renewed interest are in stage D HF, palliative care, transition of care, and quality of care for HF. Certain management strategies appropriate for the patient at risk for HF or already affected by HF are also reviewed in numerous relevant clinical practice guidelines and scientific statements published by the ACCF/AHA Task Force on Practice Guidelines, AHA, ACCF Task Force on Appropriate Use Criteria, European Society of Cardiology, Heart Failure Society of America, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The writing committee saw no need to reiterate the recommendations contained in those guidelines and chose to harmonize recommendations when appropriate and eliminate discrepancies. This is especially the case for device-based therapeutics, where complete alignment between the HF guideline and the device-based therapy guideline was deemed imperative.4 Some recommendations from earlier guidelines have been updated as warranted by new evidence or a better understanding of earlier evidence, whereas others that were no longer accurate or relevant or which were overlapping were modified; recommendations from previous guidelines that were similar or redundant were eliminated or consolidated when possible.
The present document recommends a combination of lifestyle modifications and medications that constitute GDMT. GDMT is specifically referenced in the recommendations for the treatment of HF (Section 7.3.2). Both for GDMT and other recommended drug treatment regimens, the reader is advised to confirm dosages with product insert material and to evaluate carefully for contraindications and drug-drug interactions. Table 2 is a list of documents deemed pertinent to this effort and is intended for use as a resource; it obviates the need to repeat already extant guideline recommendations. Additional other HF guideline statements are highlighted as well for the purpose of comparison and completeness.
2. Definition of HF
HF is a complex clinical syndrome that results from any structural or functional impairment of ventricular filling or ejection of blood. The cardinal manifestations of HF are dyspnea and fatigue, which may limit exercise tolerance, and fluid retention, which may lead to pulmonary and/or splanchnic congestion and/or peripheral edema. Some patients have exercise intolerance but little evidence of fluid retention, whereas others complain primarily of edema, dyspnea, or fatigue. Because some patients present without signs or symptoms of volume overload, the term “heart failure” is preferred over “congestive heart failure.” There is no single diagnostic test for HF because it is largely a clinical diagnosis based on a careful history and physical examination.
The clinical syndrome of HF may result from disorders of the pericardium, myocardium, endocardium, heart valves, or great vessels or from certain metabolic abnormalities, but most patients with HF have symptoms due to impaired left ventricular (LV) myocardial function. It should be emphasized that HF is not synonymous with either cardiomyopathy or LV dysfunction; these latter terms describe possible structural or functional reasons for the development of HF. HF may be associated with a wide spectrum of LV functional abnormalities, which may range from patients with normal LV size and preserved EF to those with severe dilatation and/or markedly reduced EF. In most patients, abnormalities of systolic and diastolic dysfunction coexist, irrespective of EF. EF is considered important in classification of patients with HF because of differing patient demographics, comorbid conditions, prognosis, and response to therapies35 and because most clinical trials selected patients based on EF. EF values are dependent on the imaging technique used, method of analysis, and operator. Because other techniques may indicate abnormalities in systolic function among patients with a preserved EF, it is preferable to use the terms preserved or reduced EF over preserved or reduced systolic function. For the remainder of this guideline, we will consistently refer to HF with preserved EF and HF with reduced EF as HFpEF and HFrEF, respectively (Table 3).
2.1. HF With Reduced EF (HFrEF)
In approximately half of patients with HFrEF, variable degrees of LV enlargement may accompany HFrEF.36,37 The definition of HFrEF has varied, with guidelines of left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) ≤35%, <40%, and ≤40%.18,19,38 Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in patients with HF have mainly enrolled patients with HFrEF with an EF ≤35% or ≤40%, and it is only in these patients that efficacious therapies have been demonstrated to date. For the present guideline, HFrEF is defined as the clinical diagnosis of HF and EF ≤40%. Those with LV systolic dysfunction commonly have elements of diastolic dysfunction as well.39 Although coronary artery disease (CAD) with antecedent myocardial infarction (MI) is a major cause of HFrEF, many other risk factors (Section 4.6) may lead to LV enlargement and HFrEF.
2.2. HF With Preserved EF (HFpEF)
In patients with clinical HF, studies estimate that the prevalence of HFpEF is approximately 50% (range 40% to 71%).40 These estimates vary largely because of the differing EF cut-off criteria and challenges in diagnostic criteria for HFpEF. HFpEF has been variably classified as EF >40%, >45%, >50%, and ≥55%. Because some of these patients do not have entirely normal EF but also do not have major reduction in systolic function, the term preserved EF has been used. Patients with an EF in the range of 40% to 50% represent an intermediate group. These patients are often treated for underlying risk factors and comorbidities and with GDMT similar to that used in patients with HFrEF. Several criteria have been proposed to define the syndrome of HFpEF. These include a) clinical signs or symptoms of HF; b) evidence of preserved or normal LVEF; and c) evidence of abnormal LV diastolic dysfunction that can be determined by Doppler echocardiography or cardiac catheterization.41 The diagnosis of HFpEF is more challenging than the diagnosis of HFrEF because it is largely one of excluding other potential noncardiac causes of symptoms suggestive of HF. Studies have suggested that the incidence of HFpEF is increasing and that a greater portion of patients hospitalized with HF have HFpEF.42 In the general population, patients with HFpEF are usually older women with a history of hypertension. Obesity, CAD, diabetes mellitus, atrial fibrillation (AF), and hyperlipidemia are also highly prevalent in HFpEF in population-based studies and registries.40,43 Despite these associated cardiovascular risk factors, hypertension remains the most important cause of HFpEF, with a prevalence of 60% to 89% from large controlled trials, epidemiological studies, and HF registries.44 It has been recognized that a subset of patients with HFpEF previously had HFrEF.45 These patients with improvement or recovery in EF may be clinically distinct from those with persistently preserved or reduced EF. Further research is needed to better characterize these patients.
See Online Data Supplement 1 for additional data on HFpEF.
3. HF Classifications
Both the ACCF/AHA stages of HF38 and the New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional classification38,46 provide useful and complementary information about the presence and severity of HF. The ACCF/AHA stages of HF emphasize the development and progression of disease and can be used to describe individuals and populations, whereas the NYHA classes focus on exercise capacity and the symptomatic status of the disease (Table 4).
The ACCF/AHA stages of HF recognize that both risk factors and abnormalities of cardiac structure are associated with HF. The stages are progressive and inviolate; once a patient moves to a higher stage, regression to an earlier stage of HF is not observed. Progression in HF stages is associated with reduced 5-year survival and increased plasma natriuretic peptide concentrations.47 Therapeutic interventions in each stage aimed at modifying risk factors (stage A), treating structural heart disease (stage B), and reducing morbidity and mortality (stages C and D) (covered in detail in Section 7) are reviewed in this document. The NYHA functional classification gauges the severity of symptoms in those with structural heart disease, primarily stages C and D. It is a subjective assessment by a clinician and can change frequently over short periods of time. Although reproducibility and validity may be problematic,48 the NYHA functional classification is an independent predictor of mortality.49 It is widely used in clinical practice and research and for determining the eligibility of patients for certain healthcare services.
See Online Data Supplement 2 for additional data on ACCF/AHA stages of HF and NYHA functional classifications.
The lifetime risk of developing HF is 20% for Americans ≥40 years of age.50 In the United States, HF incidence has largely remained stable over the past several decades, with >650 000 new HF cases diagnosed annually.51–53 HF incidence increases with age, rising from approximately 20 per 1000 individuals 65 to 69 years of age to >80 per 1000 individuals among those ≥85 years of age.52 Approximately 5.1 million persons in the United States have clinically manifest HF, and the prevalence continues to rise.51 In the Medicare-eligible population, HF prevalence increased from 90 to 121 per 1000 beneficiaries from 1994 to 2003.52 HFrEF and HFpEF each make up about half of the overall HF burden.54 One in 5 Americans will be >65 years of age by 2050.55 Because HF prevalence is highest in this group, the number of Americans with HF is expected to significantly worsen in the future. Disparities in the epidemiology of HF have been identified. Blacks have the highest risk for HF.56 In the ARIC (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities) study, incidence rate per 1000 person-years was lowest among white women52,53 and highest among black men,57 with blacks having a greater 5-year mortality rate than whites.58 HF in non-Hispanic black males and females has a prevalence of 4.5% and 3.8%, respectively, versus 2.7% and 1.8% in non-Hispanic white males and females, respectively.51
Although survival has improved, the absolute mortality rates for HF remain approximately 50% within 5 years of diagnosis.53,59 In the ARIC study, the 30-day, 1-year, and 5-year case fatality rates after hospitalization for HF were 10.4%, 22%, and 42.3%, respectively.58 In another population cohort study with 5-year mortality data, survival for stage A, B, C, and D HF was 97%, 96%, 75%, and 20%, respectively.47 Thirty-day postadmission mortality rates decreased from 12.6% to 10.8% from 1993 to 2005; however, this was due to lower in-hospital death rates. Postdischarge mortality actually increased from 4.3% to 6.4% during the same time frame.60 These observed temporal trends in HF survival are primarily restricted to patients with reduced EF and are not seen in those with preserved EF.40
See Online Data Supplement 3 for additional data on mortality.
HF is the primary diagnosis in >1 million hospitalizations annually.51 Patients hospitalized for HF are at high risk for all-cause rehospitalization, with a 1-month readmission rate of 25%.61 In 2013, physician office visits for HF cost $1.8 billion. The total cost of HF care in the United States exceeds $30 billion annually, with over half of these costs spent on hospitalizations.51
4.3. Asymptomatic LV Dysfunction
The prevalence of asymptomatic LV systolic or diastolic dysfunction ranges from 6% to 21% and increases with age.62–64 In the Left Ventricular Dysfunction Prevention study, participants with untreated asymptomatic LV dysfunction had a 10% risk for developing HF symptoms and an 8% risk of death or HF hospitalization annually.65 In a community-based population, asymptomatic mild LV diastolic dysfunction was seen in 21% and moderate or severe diastolic dysfunction in 7%, and both were associated with an increased risk of symptomatic HF and mortality.64
4.4. Health-Related Quality of Life and Functional Status
HF significantly decreases health-related quality of life (HRQOL), especially in the areas of physical functioning and vitality.66,67 Lack of improvement in HRQOL after discharge from the hospital is a powerful predictor of rehospitalization and mortality.68,69 Women with HF have consistently been found to have poorer HRQOL than men.67,70 Ethnic differences also have been found, with Mexican Hispanics reporting better HRQOL than other ethnic groups in the United States.71 Other determinants of poor HRQOL include depression, younger age, higher body mass index (BMI), greater symptom burden, lower systolic blood pressure, sleep apnea, low perceived control, and uncertainty about prognosis.70,72–76 Memory problems may also contribute to poor HRQOL.76
Pharmacological therapy is not a consistent determinant of HRQOL; therapies such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs) improve HRQOL only modestly or delay the progressive worsening of HRQOL in HF.77 At present, the only therapies shown to improve HRQOL are cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT)78 and certain disease management and educational approaches.79–82 Self-care and exercise may improve HRQOL, but the results of studies evaluating these interventions are mixed.83–86 Throughout this guideline we refer to meaningful survival as a state in which HRQOL is satisfactory to the patient.
See Online Data Supplement 4 for additional data on HRQOL and functional capacity.
4.5. Economic Burden of HF
In 1 in 9 deaths in the United States, HF is mentioned on the death certificate. The number of deaths with any mention of HF was as high in 2006 as it was in 1995.51 Approximately 7% of all cardiovascular deaths are due to HF.
As previously noted, in 2013, HF costs in the United States exceeded $30 billion.51 This total includes the cost of healthcare services, medications, and lost productivity. The mean cost of HF-related hospitalizations was $23 077 per patient and was higher when HF was a secondary rather than the primary diagnosis. Among patients with HF in 1 large population study, hospitalizations were common after HF diagnosis, with 83% of patients hospitalized at least once and 43% hospitalized at least 4 times. More than half of the hospitalizations were related to noncardiovascular causes.87–89
4.6. Important Risk Factors for HF (Hypertension, Diabetes Mellitus, Metabolic Syndrome, and Atherosclerotic Disease)
Many conditions or comorbidities are associated with an increased propensity for structural heart disease. The expedient identification and treatment of these comorbid conditions may forestall the onset of HF.14,27,90 A list of the important documents that codify treatment for these concomitant conditions appears in Table 2.
Hypertension may be the single most important modifiable risk factor for HF in the United States. Hypertensive men and women have a substantially greater risk for developing HF than normotensive men and women.91 Elevated levels of diastolic and especially systolic blood pressure are major risk factors for the development of HF.91,92 The incidence of HF is greater with higher levels of blood pressure, older age, and longer duration of hypertension. Long-term treatment of both systolic and diastolic hypertension reduces the risk of HF by approximately 50%.93–96 With nearly a quarter of the American population afflicted by hypertension and the lifetime risk of developing hypertension at >75% in the United States,97 strategies to control hypertension are a vital part of any public health effort to prevent HF.
Obesity and insulin resistance are important risk factors for the development of HF.98,99 The presence of clinical diabetes mellitus markedly increases the likelihood of developing HF in patients without structural heart disease100 and adversely affects the outcomes of patients with established HF.101,102
The metabolic syndrome includes any 3 of the following: abdominal adiposity, hypertriglyceridemia, low high-density lipoprotein, hypertension, and fasting hyperglycemia. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome in the United States exceeds 20% of persons ≥20 years of age and 40% of those >40 years of age.103 The appropriate treatment of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidemia104 can significantly reduce the development of HF.
Patients with known atherosclerotic disease (eg, of the coronary, cerebral, or peripheral blood vessels) are likely to develop HF, and clinicians should seek to control vascular risk factors in such patients according to guidelines.13
5. Cardiac Structural Abnormalities and Other Causes of HF
5.1. Dilated Cardiomyopathies
5.1.1. Definition and Classification of Dilated Cardiomyopathies
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) refers to a large group of heterogeneous myocardial disorders that are characterized by ventricular dilation and depressed myocardial contractility in the absence of abnormal loading conditions such as hypertension or valvular disease. In clinical practice and multicenter HF trials, the etiology of HF has often been categorized into ischemic or nonischemic cardiomyopathy, with the term DCM used interchangeably with nonischemic cardiomyopathy. This approach fails to recognize that “nonischemic cardiomyopathy” may include cardiomyopathies due to volume or pressure overload, such as hypertension or valvular heart disease, which are not conventionally accepted as DCM.105 With the identification of genetic defects in several forms of cardiomyopathies, a new classification scheme based on genomics was proposed in 2006.23 We recognize that classification of cardiomyopathies is challenging, mixing anatomic designations (ie, hypertrophic and dilated) with functional designations (ie, restrictive), and is unlikely to satisfy all users. The aim of the present guideline is to target appropriate diagnostic and treatment strategies for preventing the development and progression of HF in patients with cardiomyopathies; we do not wish to redefine new classification strategies for cardiomyopathies.
5.1.2. Epidemiology and Natural History of DCM
The age-adjusted prevalence of DCM in the United States averages 36 cases per 100 000 population, and DCM accounts for 10 000 deaths annually.106 In most multicenter RCTs and registries in HF, approximately 30% to 40% of enrolled patients have DCM.107–109 Compared with whites, African Americans have almost a 3-fold increased risk for developing DCM, irrespective of comorbidities or socioeconomic factors.108–110 Sex-related differences in the incidence and prognosis of DCM are conflicting and may be confounded by differing etiologies.108,109,111 The prognosis in patients with symptomatic HF and DCM is relatively poor, with 25% mortality at 1 year and 50% mortality at 5 years.112 Approximately 25% of patients with DCM with recent onset of HF symptoms will improve within a short time even in the absence of optimal GDMT,113 but patients with symptoms lasting >3 months who present with severe clinical decompensation generally have less chance of recovery.113 Patients with idiopathic DCM have a lower total mortality rate than patients with other types of DCM.114 However, GDMT is beneficial in all forms of DCM.78,109,115–117
5.2. Familial Cardiomyopathies
Increasingly, it is recognized that many (20% to 35%) patients with an idiopathic DCM have a familial cardiomyopathy (defined as 2 closely related family members who meet the criteria for idiopathic DCM).118,119 Consideration of familial cardiomyopathies includes the increasingly important discovery of noncompaction cardiomyopathies. Advances in technology permitting high-throughput sequencing and genotyping at reduced costs have brought genetic screening to the clinical arena. For further information on this topic, the reader is referred to published guidelines, position statements, and expert consensus statements118,120–123 (Table 5).
5.3. Endocrine and Metabolic Causes of Cardiomyopathy
Obesity cardiomyopathy is defined as cardiomyopathy due entirely or predominantly to obesity (Section 18.104.22.168). Although the precise mechanisms causing obesity-related HF are not known, excessive adipose accumulation results in an increase in circulating blood volume. A subsequent, persistent increase in cardiac output, cardiac work, and systemic blood pressure124 along with lipotoxicity-induced cardiac myocyte injury and myocardial lipid accumulation have been implicated as potential mechanisms.125,126A study with participants from the Framingham Heart Study reported that after adjustment for established risk factors, obesity was associated with significant future risk of development of HF.99 There are no large-scale studies of the safety or efficacy of weight loss with diet, exercise, or bariatric surgery in obese patients with HF.
5.3.2. Diabetic Cardiomyopathy
Diabetes mellitus is now well recognized as a risk factor for the development of HF independent of age, hypertension, obesity, hypercholesterolemia, or CAD. The association between mortality and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) in patients with diabetes mellitus and HF appears U-shaped, with the lowest risk of death in those patients with modest glucose control (7.1%<HbA1c≤7.8%) and with increased risk with extremely high or low HbA1c levels.127 The optimal treatment strategy in patients with diabetes mellitus and HF is controversial; some studies have suggested potential harm with several glucose-lowering medications.127,128 The safety and efficacy of diabetes mellitus therapies in HF, including metformin, sulfonylureas, insulin, and glucagon-like peptide analogues, await further data from prospective clinical trials.129–131 Treatment with thiazolidinediones (eg, rosiglitazone) is associated with fluid retention in patients with HF129,132 and should be avoided in patients with NYHA class II through IV HF.
5.3.3. Thyroid Disease
Hyperthyroidism has been implicated in causing DCM but most commonly occurs with persistent sinus tachycardia or AF and may be related to tachycardia.133 Abnormalities in cardiac systolic and diastolic performance have been reported in hypothyroidism. However, the classic findings of myxedema do not usually indicate cardiomyopathy. The low cardiac output results from bradycardia, decreased ventricular filling, reduced cardiac contractility, and diminished myocardial work.133,134
5.3.4. Acromegaly and Growth Hormone Deficiency
Impaired cardiovascular function has been associated with reduced life expectancy in patients with growth hormone deficiency and excess. Experimental and clinical studies implicate growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor I in cardiac development.135 Cardiomyopathy associated with acromegaly is characterized by myocardial hypertrophy with interstitial fibrosis, lympho-mononuclear infiltration, myocyte necrosis, and biventricular concentric hypertrophy.135
5.4. Toxic Cardiomyopathy
5.4.1. Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy
Chronic alcoholism is one of the most important causes of DCM.136 The clinical diagnosis is suspected when biventricular dysfunction and dilatation are persistently observed in a heavy drinker in the absence of other known causes for myocardial disease. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy most commonly occurs in men 30 to 55 years of age who have been heavy consumers of alcohol for >10 years.137 Women represent approximately 14% of the alcoholic cardiomyopathy cases but may be more vulnerable with less lifetime alcohol consumption.136,138 The risk of asymptomatic alcoholic cardiomyopathy is increased in those consuming >90 g of alcohol per day (approximately 7 to 8 standard drinks per day) for >5 years.137 Interestingly, in the general population, mild to moderate alcohol consumption has been reported to be protective against development of HF.139,140 These paradoxical findings suggest that duration of exposure and individual genetic susceptibility play an important role in pathogenesis. Recovery of LV function after cessation of drinking has been reported.141 Even if LV dysfunction persists, the symptoms and signs of HF improve after abstinence.141
5.4.2. Cocaine Cardiomyopathy
Long-term abuse of cocaine may result in DCM even without CAD, vasculitis, or MI. Depressed LV function has been reported in 4% to 18% of asymptomatic cocaine abusers.142–144 The safety and efficacy of beta blockers for chronic HF due to cocaine use are unknown.145
5.4.3. Cardiotoxicity Related to Cancer Therapies
Several cytotoxic antineoplastic drugs, especially the anthracyclines, are cardiotoxic and can lead to long-term cardiac morbidity. Iron-chelating agents that prevent generation of oxygen free radicals, such as dexrazoxane, are cardioprotective,146,147 and reduce the occurrence and severity of anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity and development of HF.
Other antineoplastic chemotherapies with cardiac toxicity are the monoclonal antibody trastuzumab (Herceptin), high-dose cyclophosphamide, taxoids, mitomycin-C, 5-fluorouracil, and the interferons.148 In contrast to anthracycline-induced cardiac toxicity, trastuzumab-related cardiac dysfunction does not appear to increase with cumulative dose, nor is it associated with ultrastructural changes in the myocardium. However, concomitant anthracycline therapy significantly increases the risk for cardiotoxicity during trastuzumab treatment. The cardiac dysfunction associated with trastuzumab is most often reversible on discontinuation of treatment and initiation of standard medical therapy for HF.149 The true incidence and reversibility of chemotherapy-related cardiotoxicity are not well documented, and meaningful interventions to prevent injury have not yet been elucidated.
5.4.4. Other Myocardial Toxins and Nutritional Causes of Cardiomyopathy
In addition to the classic toxins described above, a number of other toxic agents may lead to LV dysfunction and HF, including ephedra, cobalt, anabolic steroids, chloroquine, clozapine, amphetamine, methylphenidate, and catecholamines.150 Ephedra, which has been used for athletic performance enhancement and weight loss, was ultimately banned by the US Food and Drug Administration for its high rate of adverse cardiovascular outcomes, including LV systolic dysfunction, development of HF, and sudden cardiac death (SCD).151
Primary and secondary nutritional deficiencies may lead to cardiomyopathy. Chronic alcoholism, anorexia nervosa, AIDS, and pregnancy can account for other rare causes of thiamine deficiency–related cardiomyopathy in the western world.152 Deficiency in l-carnitine, a necessary cofactor for fatty acid oxidation, may be associated with a syndrome of progressive skeletal myopathy and cardiomyopathy.153
5.5. Tachycardia-Induced Cardiomyopathy
Tachycardia-induced cardiomyopathy is a reversible cause of HF characterized by LV myocardial dysfunction caused by increased ventricular rate. The degree of dysfunction correlates with the duration and rate of the tachyarrhythmia. Virtually any supraventricular tachycardia with a rapid ventricular response may induce cardiomyopathy. Ventricular arrhythmias, including frequent premature ventricular complexes, may also induce cardiomyopathy. Maintenance of sinus rhythm or control of ventricular rate is critical to treating patients with tachycardia-induced cardiomyopathy.154 Reversibility of the cardiomyopathy with treatment of the arrhythmia is the rule, although this may not be complete in all cases. The underlying mechanisms for this are not well understood.
Ventricular pacing at high rates may cause cardiomyopathy. Additionally, right ventricular pacing alone may exacerbate HF symptoms, increase hospitalization for HF, and increase mortality.155,156 Use of CRT in patients with a conduction delay due to pacing may result in improved LV function and functional capacity.
5.6. Myocarditis and Cardiomyopathies Due to Inflammation
Inflammation of the heart may cause HF in about 10% of cases of initially unexplained cardiomyopathy.105,157 A variety of infectious organisms, as well as toxins and medications, most often postviral in origin, may cause myocarditis. In addition, myocarditis is also seen as part of other systemic diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus and other myocardial muscle diseases such as HIV cardiomyopathy and possibly peripartum cardiomyopathy. Presentation may be acute, with a distinct onset, severe hemodynamic compromise, and severe LV dysfunction as seen in acute fulminant myocarditis, or it may be subacute, with an indistinct onset and better-tolerated LV dysfunction.158 Prognosis varies, with spontaneous complete resolution (paradoxically most often seen with acute fulminant myocarditis)158 to the development of DCM despite immunosuppressive therapy.159 The role of immunosuppressive therapy is controversial.159 Targeting such therapy to specific individuals based on the presence or absence of viral genome in myocardial biopsy samples may improve response to immunosuppressive therapy.160
Giant cell myocarditis is a rare form of myocardial inflammation characterized by fulminant HF, often associated with refractory ventricular arrhythmias and a poor prognosis.161,162 Histologic findings include diffuse myocardial necrosis with numerous multinucleated giant cells without granuloma formation. Consideration for advanced HF therapies, including immunosuppression, mechanical circulatory support (MCS), and transplantation, is warranted.
5.6.2. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
The extent of immunodeficiency influences the incidence of HIV-associated DCM.163–165 In long-term echocardiographic follow-up,166 8% of initially asymptomatic HIV-positive patients were diagnosed with DCM during the 5-year follow-up. Whether early treatment with ACE inhibitors and/or beta blockers will prevent or delay disease progression in these patients is unknown at this time.
5.6.3. Chagas Disease
Although Chagas disease is a relatively uncommon cause of DCM in North America, it remains an important cause of death in Central and South America.167 Symptomatic chronic Chagas disease develops in an estimated 10% to 30% of infected persons, years or even decades after the Trypanosoma cruzi infection. Cardiac changes may include biventricular enlargement, thinning or thickening of ventricular walls, apical aneurysms, and mural thrombi. The conduction system is often affected, typically resulting in right bundle-branch block, left anterior fascicular block, or complete atrioventricular block.
5.7. Inflammation-Induced Cardiomyopathy: Noninfectious Causes
5.7.1. Hypersensitivity Myocarditis
Hypersensitivity to a variety of agents may result in allergic reactions that involve the myocardium, characterized by peripheral eosinophilia and a perivascular infiltration of the myocardium by eosinophils, lymphocytes, and histiocytes. A variety of drugs, most commonly the sulfonamides, penicillins, methyldopa, and other agents such as amphotericin B, streptomycin, phenytoin, isoniazid, tetanus toxoid, hydrochlorothiazide, dobutamine, and chlorthalidone, have been reported to cause allergic hypersensitivity myocarditis.168 Most patients are not clinically ill but may die suddenly, presumably secondary to an arrhythmia.
5.7.2. Rheumatological/Connective Tissue Disorders
Along with a number of cardiac abnormalities (eg, pericarditis, pericardial effusion, conduction system abnormalities, including complete atrioventricular heart block), DCM can be a rare manifestation of systemic lupus erythematosus and usually correlates with disease activity.169 Studies suggest that echocardiographic evidence of abnormal LV filling may reflect the presence of myocardial fibrosis and could be a marker of subclinical myocardial involvement in systemic lupus erythematosus patients.170
Scleroderma is a rare cause of DCM. One echocardiographic study showed that despite normal LV dimensions or fractional shortening, subclinical systolic impairment was present in the majority of patients with scleroderma.171 Cardiac involvement in rheumatoid arthritis generally is in the form of myocarditis and/or pericarditis, and development of DCM is rare.172 Myocardial involvement in rheumatoid arthritis is thought to be secondary to microvasculitis and subsequent microcirculatory disturbances. Myocardial disease in rheumatoid arthritis can occur in the absence of clinical symptoms or abnormalities of the electrocardiogram (ECG).173
5.8. Peripartum Cardiomyopathy
Peripartum cardiomyopathy is a disease of unknown cause in which LV dysfunction occurs during the last trimester of pregnancy or the early puerperium. It is reported in 1:1300 to 1:4000 live births.174 Risk factors for peripartum cardiomyopathy include advanced maternal age, multiparity, African descent, and long-term tocolysis. Although its etiology remains unknown, most theories have focused on hemodynamic and immunologic causes.174 The prognosis of peripartum cardiomyopathy is related to the recovery of ventricular function. Significant improvement in myocardial function is seen in 30% to 50% of patients in the first 6 months after presentation.174 However, for those patients who do not recover to normal or near-normal function, the prognosis is similar to other forms of DCM.175 Cardiomegaly that persists for >4 to 6 months after diagnosis indicates a poor prognosis, with a 50% mortality rate at 6 years. Subsequent pregnancy in women with a history of peripartum cardiomyopathy may be associated with a further decrease in LV function and can result in clinical deterioration, including death. However, if ventricular function has normalized in women with a history of peripartum cardiomyopathy, the risk may be less.174 There is an increased risk of venous thromboembolism, and anticoagulation is recommended, especially if ventricular dysfunction is persistent.
5.9. Cardiomyopathy Caused By Iron Overload
Iron overload cardiomyopathy manifests itself as systolic or diastolic dysfunction secondary to increased deposition of iron in the heart and occurs with common genetic disorders such as primary hemochromatosis or with lifetime transfusion requirements as seen in beta-thalassemia major.176 Hereditary hemochromatosis, an autosomal recessive disorder, is the most common hereditary disease of Northern Europeans, with a prevalence of approximately 5 per 1000. The actuarial survival rates of persons who are homozygous for the mutation of the hemochromatosis gene C282Y have been reported to be 95%, 93%, and 66%, at 5, 10, and 20 years, respectively.177 Similarly, in patients with thalassemia major, cardiac failure is one of the most frequent causes of death. Chelation therapy, including newer forms of oral chelators, such as deferoxamine, and phlebotomy, have dramatically improved the outcome of hemochromatosis, and the roles of gene therapy, hepcidin, and calcium channel blockers are being actively investigated.178
Cardiac amyloidosis involves the deposition of insoluble proteins as fibrils in the heart, resulting in HF. Primary or AL amyloidosis (monoclonal kappa or lambda light chains), secondary amyloidosis (protein A), familial TTR amyloidosis (mutant transthyretin), dialysis-associated amyloidosis (beta-2-microglobulin), or senile TTR amyloidosis (wild-type transthyretin) can affect the heart, but cardiac involvement is primarily encountered in AL and TTR amyloidosis.179 The disease can be rapidly progressive, and in patients with ventricular septum thickness >15 mm, LVEF <40%, and symptoms of HF, median survival may be <6 months.180 Cardiac biomarkers (eg, B-type natriuretic peptide [BNP], cardiac troponin) have been reported to predict response and progression of disease and survival.181 Three percent to 4% of African Americans carry an amyloidogenic allele of the human serum protein transthyretin (TTR V122I), which appears to increase risk for cardiac amyloid deposition after 65 years of age.182
5.11. Cardiac Sarcoidosis
Cardiac sarcoidosis is an underdiagnosed disease that may affect as many as 25% of patients with systemic sarcoidosis. Although most commonly recognized in patients with other manifestations of sarcoidosis, cardiac involvement may occur in isolation and go undetected. Cardiac sarcoidosis may present as asymptomatic LV dysfunction, HF, atrioventricular block, atrial or ventricular arrhythmia, and SCD.183 Although untested in clinical trials, early use of high-dose steroid therapy may halt or reverse cardiac damage.184 Cardiac magnetic resonance and cardiac positron emission tomographic scanning can identify cardiac involvement with patchy areas of myocardial inflammation and fibrosis. In the setting of ventricular tachyarrhythmia, patients may require placement of an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) for primary prevention of SCD.185
5.12. Stress (Takotsubo) Cardiomyopathy
Stress cardiomyopathy is characterized by acute reversible LV dysfunction in the absence of significant CAD, triggered by acute emotional or physical stress.23 This phenomenon is identified by a distinctive pattern of “apical ballooning,” first described in Japan as takotsubo, and often affects postmenopausal women.186 A majority of patients have a clinical presentation similar to that of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and may have transiently elevated cardiac enzymes.
6. Initial and Serial Evaluation of the HF Patient
6.1. Clinical Evaluation
6.1.1. History and Physical Examination: Recommendations
A thorough history and physical examination should be obtained/performed in patients presenting with HF to identify cardiac and noncardiac disorders or behaviors that might cause or accelerate the development or progression of HF. (Level of Evidence: C)
In patients with idiopathic DCM, a 3-generational family history should be obtained to aid in establishing the diagnosis of familial DCM. (Level of Evidence: C)
Volume status and vital signs should be assessed at each patient encounter. This includes serial assessment of weight, as well as estimates of jugular venous pressure and the presence of peripheral edema or orthopnea.187–190 (Level of Evidence: B)
Despite advances in imaging technology and increasing availability of diagnostic laboratory testing, a careful history and physical examination remain the cornerstones in the assessment of patients with HF. The components of a focused history and physical examination for the patient with HF are listed in Table 6. The history provides clues to the etiology of the cardiomyopathy, including the diagnosis of familial cardiomyopathy (defined as ≥2 relatives with idiopathic DCM). Familial syndromes are now recognized to occur in 20% to 35% of patients with apparent idiopathic DCM118; thus, a 3-generation family history should be obtained. The history also provides information about the severity of the disease and the patient’s prognosis and identifies opportunities for therapeutic interventions. The physical examination provides information about the severity of illness and allows assessment of volume status and adequacy of perfusion. In advanced HFrEF, orthopnea and jugular venous pressure are useful findings to detect elevated LV filling pressures.187,189,190
See Online Data Supplements 5, 6, and 7 for additional data on stress testing and clinical evaluation.
6.1.2. Risk Scoring: Recommendation
In the course of standard evaluation, clinicians should routinely assess the patient’s potential for adverse outcome, because accurate risk stratification may help guide therapeutic decision making, including a more rapid transition to advanced HF therapies. A number of methods objectively assess risk, including biomarker testing (Section 6.3), as well as a variety of multivariable clinical risk scores (Table 7); these risk scores are for use in ambulatory199,203,205,206,208 and hospitalized patients.200,202,204,205,209 Risk models specifically for patients with HFpEF have also been described.201
One well-validated risk score, the Seattle Heart Failure Model, is available in an interactive application on the Internet210 and provides robust information about risk of mortality in ambulatory patients with HF. For patients hospitalized with acutely decompensated HF, the model developed by ADHERE (Acute Decompensated Heart Failure National Registry) incorporates 3 routinely measured variables on hospital admission (ie, systolic blood pressure, blood urea nitrogen, and serum creatinine) and stratifies subjects into categories with a 10-fold range of crude in-hospital mortality (from 2.1% to 21.9%).200 Notably, clinical risk scores have not performed as well in estimating risk of hospital readmission.211 For this purpose, biomarkers such as natriuretic peptides hold considerable promise212,213 (Section 6.3).
See Online Data Supplement 8 for additional data on clinical evaluation risk scoring.
6.2. Diagnostic Tests: Recommendations
Initial laboratory evaluation of patients presenting with HF should include complete blood count, urinalysis, serum electrolytes (including calcium and magnesium), blood urea nitrogen, serum creatinine, glucose, fasting lipid profile, liver function tests, and thyroid-stimulating hormone. (Level of Evidence: C)
Serial monitoring, when indicated, should include serum electrolytes and renal function. (Level of Evidence: C)
A 12-lead ECG should be performed initially on all patients presenting with HF. (Level of Evidence: C)
Screening for hemochromatosis or HIV is reasonable in selected patients who present with HF.216 (Level of Evidence: C)
Diagnostic tests for rheumatologic diseases, amyloidosis, or pheochromocytoma are reasonable in patients presenting with HF in whom there is a clinical suspicion of these diseases. (Level of Evidence: C)
6.3. Biomarkers: Recommendations
In ambulatory patients with dyspnea, measurement of BNP or N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) is useful to support clinical decision making regarding the diagnosis of HF, especially in the setting of clinical uncertainty.217–223 (Level of Evidence: A)
Measurement of other clinically available tests such as biomarkers of myocardial injury or fibrosis may be considered for additive risk stratification in patients with chronic HF.238–244 (Level of Evidence: B)
Measurement of BNP or NT-proBNP is useful to support clinical judgment for the diagnosis of acutely decompensated HF, especially in the setting of uncertainty for the diagnosis.212,245–250 (Level of Evidence: A)
Measurement of other clinically available tests such as biomarkers of myocardial injury or fibrosis may be considered for additive risk stratification in patients with acutely decompensated HF.248,253,256,257,261–267 (Level of Evidence: A)
In addition to routine clinical laboratory tests, other biomarkers are gaining greater attention for their utility in HF management. These biomarkers may reflect various pathophysiological aspects of HF, including myocardial wall stress, hemodynamic abnormalities, inflammation, myocyte injury, neurohormonal upregulation, and myocardial remodeling, as well as extracellular matrix turnover. Thus, these biomarkers are potentially powerful adjuncts to current standards for the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of acute and chronic HF.
6.3.1. Natriuretic Peptides: BNP or NT-proBNP
BNP or its amino-terminal cleavage equivalent (NT-proBNP) is derived from a common 108-amino acid precursor peptide (proBNP108) that is generated by cardiomyocytes in the context of numerous triggers, most notably myocardial stretch. Following several steps of processing, BNP and NT-proBNP are released from the cardiomyocyte, along with variable amounts of proBNP108, the latter of which is detected by all assays that measure either “BNP” or “NT-proBNP.”
Assays for BNP and NT-proBNP have been increasingly used to establish the presence and severity of HF. In general, BNP and NT-proBNP values are reasonably correlated, and either can be used in patient care settings as long as their respective absolute values and cut points are not used interchangeably. BNP and NT-proBNP are useful to support clinical judgment for the diagnosis or exclusion of HF, in the setting of chronic ambulatory HF217–223 or acute decompensated HF245–250; the value of natriuretic peptide testing is particularly significant when the etiology of dyspnea is unclear.
Although lower values of BNP or NT-proBNP exclude the presence of HF and higher values have reasonably high positive predictive value to diagnose HF, clinicians should be aware that elevated plasma levels for both natriuretic peptides have been associated with a wide variety of cardiac and noncardiac causes (Table 8).268–271
BNP and NT-proBNP levels improve with treatment of chronic HF,225,272–274 with lowering of levels over time in general, correlating with improved clinical outcomes.248,251,254,260 Thus, BNP or NT-proBNP “guided” therapy has been studied against standard care without natriuretic peptide measurement to determine whether guided therapy renders superior achievement of GDMT in patients with HF. However, RCTs have yielded inconsistent results.
The positive and negative natriuretic peptide–guided therapy trials differ primarily in their study populations, with successful trials enrolling younger patients and only those with HFrEF. In addition, a lower natriuretic peptide goal and/or a substantial reduction in natriuretic peptides during treatment are consistently present in the positive “guided” therapy trials.275 Although most trials examining the strategy of biomarker “guided” HF management were small and underpowered, 2 comprehensive meta-analyses concluded that BNP-guided therapy reduces all-cause mortality in patients with chronic HF compared with usual clinical care,231,232 especially in patients <75 years of age. This survival benefit may be attributed to increased achievement of GDMT. In some cases, BNP or NT-proBNP levels may not be easily modifiable. If the BNP or NT-proBNP value does not fall after aggressive HF care, risk for death or hospitalization for HF is significant. On the other hand, some patients with advanced HF have normal BNP or NT-proBNP levels or have falsely low BNP levels because of obesity and HFpEF. All of these patients should still receive appropriate GDMT.
6.3.2. Biomarkers of Myocardial Injury: Cardiac Troponin T or I
Abnormal concentrations of circulating cardiac troponin are found in patients with HF, often without obvious myocardial ischemia and frequently in those without underlying CAD. This suggests ongoing myocyte injury or necrosis in these patients.238–241,276 In chronic HF, elaboration of cardiac troponins is associated with impaired hemodynamics,238 progressive LV dysfunction,239 and increased mortality rates.238–241,276 Similarly, in patients with acute decompensated HF, elevated cardiac troponin levels are associated with worse clinical outcomes and mortality253,257,263; decrease in troponin levels over time with treatment is associated with a better prognosis than persistent elevation in patients with chronic239 or acute HF.277 Given the tight association with ACS and troponin elevation as well as the link between MI and the development of acute HF,278 the measurement of troponin I or T should be routine in patients presenting with acutely decompensated HF syndromes.
6.3.3. Other Emerging Biomarkers
Besides natriuretic peptides or troponins, multiple other biomarkers, including those reflecting inflammation, oxidative stress, neurohormonal disarray, and myocardial and matrix remodeling, have been widely examined for their prognostic value in HF. Biomarkers of myocardial fibrosis, soluble ST2 and galectin-3 are not only predictive of hospitalization and death in patients with HF but also additive to natriuretic peptide levels in their prognostic value. Markers of renal injury may also offer additional prognostic value because renal function or injury may be involved in the pathogenesis, progression, decompensation, or complications in chronic or acute decompensated HF.242–244,264,265,279 Strategies that combine multiple biomarkers may ultimately prove beneficial in guiding HF therapy in the future.
See Table 9 for a summary of recommendations from this section.
6.4. Noninvasive Cardiac Imaging: Recommendations
See Table 10 for a summary of recommendations from this section.
Patients with suspected or new-onset HF, or those presenting with acute decompensated HF, should undergo a chest x-ray to assess heart size and pulmonary congestion and to detect alternative cardiac, pulmonary, and other diseases that may cause or contribute to the patient’s symptoms. (Level of Evidence: C)
A 2-dimensional echocardiogram with Doppler should be performed during initial evaluation of patients presenting with HF to assess ventricular function, size, wall thickness, wall motion, and valve function. (Level of Evidence: C)
Repeat measurement of EF and measurement of the severity of structural remodeling are useful to provide information in patients with HF who have had a significant change in clinical status; who have experienced or recovered from a clinical event; or who have received treatment, including GDMT, that might have had a significant effect on cardiac function; or who may be candidates for device therapy. (Level of Evidence: C)
Noninvasive imaging to detect myocardial ischemia and viability is reasonable in patients presenting with de novo HF, who have known CAD and no angina, unless the patient is not eligible for revascularization of any kind. (Level of Evidence: C)
Radionuclide ventriculography or magnetic resonance imaging can be useful to assess LVEF and volume when echocardiography is inadequate. (Level of Evidence: C)
Class III: No Benefit
The chest x-ray is important for the evaluation of patients presenting with signs and symptoms of HF because it assesses cardiomegaly and pulmonary congestion and may reveal alternative causes, cardiopulmonary or otherwise, of the patient’s symptoms. Apart from congestion, however, other findings on chest x-ray are associated with HF only in the context of clinical presentation. Cardiomegaly may be absent in HF. A chest x-ray may also show other cardiac chamber enlargement, increased pulmonary venous pressure, interstitial or alveolar edema, valvular or pericardial calcification, or coexisting thoracic diseases. Considering its low sensitivity and specificity, the chest x-ray should not be the sole determinant of the specific cause of HF. Moreover, a supine chest x-ray has limited value in acute decompensated HF.
Although a complete history and physical examination are important first steps, the most useful diagnostic test in the evaluation of patients with or at risk for HF (eg, postacute MI) is a comprehensive 2-dimensional echocardiogram; coupled with Doppler flow studies, the transthoracic echocardiogram can identify abnormalities of myocardium, heart valves, and pericardium. Echocardiography can reveal subclinical HF and predict risk of subsequent events.291–295 Use of echocardiograms in patients with suspected HF improves disease identification and provision of appropriate medical care.296
Echocardiographic evaluation should address whether LVEF is reduced, LV structure is abnormal, and other structural abnormalities are present that could account for the clinical presentation. This information should be quantified, including numerical estimates of EF measurement, ventricular dimensions, wall thickness, calculations of ventricular volumes, and evaluation of chamber geometry and regional wall motion. Documentation of LVEF is an HF quality-of-care performance measure.297 Right ventricular size and function as well as atrial size and dimensions should also be measured. All valves should be evaluated for anatomic and flow abnormalities. Secondary changes, particularly the severity of mitral and tricuspid valve insufficiency, should be determined. Noninvasive hemodynamic data constitute important additional information. Mitral valve inflow pattern, pulmonary venous inflow pattern, and mitral annular velocity provide data about LV filling and left atrial pressure. The tricuspid valve regurgitant gradient, coupled with measurement of inferior vena cava diameter and its response during respiration, provides estimates of systolic pulmonary artery pressure and central venous pressure. Many of these abnormalities are prognostically important and can be present without manifest HF.
Serial echocardiographic evaluations are useful because evidence of cardiac reverse remodeling can provide important information in patients who have had a change in clinical status or have experienced or recovered from an event or treatment that affects cardiac function. However, the routine repeat assessment of ventricular function in the absence of changing clinical status or a change in treatment intervention is not indicated.
The preference for echocardiography as an imaging modality is due to its widespread availability and lack of ionizing radiation; however, other imaging modalities may be of use. Magnetic resonance imaging assesses LV volume and EF measurements at least as accurately as echocardiography. However, additional information about myocardial perfusion, viability, and fibrosis from magnetic resonance imaging can help identify HF etiology and assess prognosis.298 Magnetic resonance imaging provides high anatomical resolution of all aspects of the heart and surrounding structure, leading to its recommended use in known or suspected congenital heart diseases.5 Cardiac computed tomography can also provide accurate assessment of cardiac structure and function, including the coronary arteries.299 An advantage of cardiac computed tomography over echocardiography may be its ability to characterize the myocardium, but studies have yet to demonstrate the importance of this factor. Reports of cardiac computed tomography in patients with suspected HF are limited. Furthermore, both cardiac computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging lose accuracy with high heart rates. Radionuclide ventriculography may also be used for evaluation of cardiac function when other tests are unavailable or inadequate. However, as a planar technique, radionuclide ventriculography cannot directly assess valvular structure, function, or ventricular wall thickness; it may be more useful for assessing LV volumes in patients with significant baseline wall motion abnormalities or distorted geometry. Ventriculography is highly reproducible.300 Single photon emission computed tomography or positron emission tomography scans are not primarily used to determine LV systolic global and regional function unless these parameters are quantified from the resultant images during myocardial perfusion and/or viability assessment.301,302 Candidates for coronary revascularization who present with a high suspicion for obstructive CAD should undergo coronary angiography. Stress nuclear imaging or echocardiography may be an acceptable option for assessing ischemia in patients presenting with HF who have known CAD and no angina unless they are ineligible for revascularization.303 Although the results of the STICH (Surgical Treatment for Ischemic Heart Failure) trial have cast doubt on the role of myocardial viability assessment to determine the mode of therapy,304 the data are nevertheless predictive of a positive outcome. When these data are taken into consideration with multiple previous studies demonstrating the usefulness of this approach,281–285 it becomes reasonable to recommend viability assessment when treating patients with HFrEF who have known CAD.14
See Online Data Supplement 9 for additional data on imaging−echocardiography.
6.5. Invasive Evaluation: Recommendations
See Table 11 for a summary of recommendations from this section.
Invasive hemodynamic monitoring with a pulmonary artery catheter should be performed to guide therapy in patients who have respiratory distress or clinical evidence of impaired perfusion in whom the adequacy or excess of intracardiac filling pressures cannot be determined from clinical assessment. (Level of Evidence: C)
Invasive hemodynamic monitoring can be useful for carefully selected patients with acute HF who have persistent symptoms despite empiric adjustment of standard therapies and
whose fluid status, perfusion, or systemic or pulmonary vascular resistance is uncertain;
whose systolic pressure remains low, or is associated with symptoms, despite initial therapy;
whose renal function is worsening with therapy;
who require parenteral vasoactive agents; or
who may need consideration for MCS or transplantation. (Level of Evidence: C)
When ischemia may be contributing to HF, coronary arteriography is reasonable for patients eligible for revascularization. (Level of Evidence: C)
Endomyocardial biopsy can be useful in patients presenting with HF when a specific diagnosis is suspected that would influence therapy. (Level of Evidence: C)
Class III: No Benefit
Routine use of invasive hemodynamic monitoring is not recommended in normotensive patients with acute decompensated HF and congestion with symptomatic response to diuretics and vasodilators.305 (Level of Evidence: B)
Class III: Harm
Endomyocardial biopsy should not be performed in the routine evaluation of patients with HF. (Level of Evidence: C)
6.5.1. Right-Heart Catheterization
There has been no established role for routine or periodic invasive hemodynamic measurements in the management of HF. Most drugs used for the treatment of HF are prescribed on the basis of their ability to improve symptoms or survival rather than their effect on hemodynamic variables. The initial and target doses of these drugs are generally selected on the basis of controlled trial experience rather than changes produced in cardiac output or pulmonary capillary wedge pressure. Hemodynamic monitoring is indicated in patients with clinically indeterminate volume status and those refractory to initial therapy, particularly if intracardiac filling pressures and cardiac output are unclear. Patients with clinically significant hypotension (systolic blood pressure typically <90 mm Hg or symptomatic low systolic blood pressure) and/or worsening renal function during initial therapy might also benefit from invasive hemodynamic measurements.305,306 Patients being considered for cardiac transplantation or placement of an MCS device are also candidates for complete right-heart catheterization, including an assessment of pulmonary vascular resistance, a necessary part of the initial transplantation evaluation. Invasive hemodynamic monitoring should be performed in patients with 1) presumed cardiogenic shock requiring escalating pressor therapy and consideration of MCS; 2) severe clinical decompensation in which therapy is limited by uncertain contributions of elevated filling pressures, hypoperfusion, and vascular tone; 3) apparent dependence on intravenous inotropic infusions after initial clinical improvement; or 4) persistent severe symptoms despite adjustment of recommended therapies. On the other hand, routine use of invasive hemodynamic monitoring is not recommended in normotensive patients with acute decompensated HF who have a symptomatic response to diuretics and vasodilators. This reinforces the concept that right-heart catheterization is best reserved for those situations where a specific clinical or therapeutic question needs to be addressed.
6.5.2. Left-Heart Catheterization
Left-heart catheterization or coronary angiography is indicated for patients with HF and angina and may be useful for those patients without angina but with LV dysfunction. Invasive coronary angiography should be used in accordance with the ACCF/AHA coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) and percutaneous coronary intervention guidelines10,12 and should only be performed in patients who are potentially eligible for revascularization.307–309 In patients with known CAD and angina or with significant ischemia diagnosed by ECG or noninvasive testing and impaired ventricular function, coronary angiography is indicated. Among those without a prior diagnosis, CAD should be considered as a potential etiology of impaired LV function and should be excluded wherever possible. Coronary angiography may be considered in these circumstances to detect and localize large-vessel coronary obstructions. In patients in whom CAD has been excluded as the cause of LV dysfunction, coronary angiography is generally not indicated unless a change in clinical status suggests interim development of ischemic disease.
6.5.3. Endomyocardial Biopsy
Endomyocardial biopsy can be useful when seeking a specific diagnosis that would influence therapy, and biopsy should thus be considered in patients with rapidly progressive clinical HF or worsening ventricular dysfunction that persists despite appropriate medical therapy. Endomyocardial biopsy should also be considered in patients suspected of having acute cardiac rejection status after heart transplantation or having myocardial infiltrative processes. A specific example is to determine chemotherapy for primary cardiac amyloidosis. Additional other indications for endomyocardial biopsy include in patients with rapidly progressive and unexplained cardiomyopathy, those in whom active myocarditis, especially giant cell myocarditis, is being considered.310 Routine endomyocardial biopsy is not recommended in all cases of HF, given limited diagnostic yield and the risk of procedure-related complications.
See Online Data Supplement 10 for additional data on biopsy.
7. Treatment of Stages A to D
7.1. Stage A: Recommendations
Other conditions that may lead to or contribute to HF, such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, tobacco use, and known cardiotoxic agents, should be controlled or avoided. (Level of Evidence: C)
7.1.1. Recognition and Treatment of Elevated Blood Pressure
The lifetime risk for development of hypertension is considerable and represents a major public health issue.97 Elevated blood pressure is a major risk factor for the development of both HFpEF and HFrEF,91,92 a risk that extends across all age ranges. Long-term treatment of both systolic and diastolic hypertension has been shown to reduce the risk of incident HF by approximately 50%.94,311–314 Treatment of hypertension is particularly beneficial in older patients.311 One trial of a diuretic-based program demonstrated a number needed to treat of 52 to prevent 1 HF event in 2 years.311 In another study, elderly patients with a history or ECG evidence of prior MI had a >80% risk reduction for incident HF with aggressive blood pressure control.94 Given the robust outcomes with blood pressure reduction, clinicians should lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in accordance with published guidelines.27
Choice of antihypertensive therapy should also follow guidelines,27 with specific options tailored to concomitant medical problems, such as diabetes mellitus or CAD. Diuretic-based antihypertensive therapy has repeatedly been shown to prevent HF in a wide range of patients; ACE inhibitors, ARBs, and beta blockers are also effective. Data are less clear for calcium antagonists and alpha blockers in reducing the risk for incident HF.
7.1.2. Treatment of Dyslipidemia and Vascular Risk
Patients with known atherosclerotic disease are likely to develop HF. Clinicians should seek to control vascular risk factors in such patients according to guidelines.28 Aggressive treatment of hyperlipidemia with statins reduces the likelihood of HF in at-risk patients.315,316 Long-term treatment with ACE inhibitors in similar patients may also decrease the risk of HF.314,317
7.1.3. Obesity and Diabetes Mellitus
Obesity and overweight have been repeatedly linked to an increased risk for HF.99,318,319 Presumably, the link between obesity and risk for HF is explained by the clustering of risk factors for heart disease in those with elevated BMI (ie, the metabolic syndrome). Similarly, insulin resistance, with or without diabetes mellitus, is also an important risk factor for the development of HF.92,320–323 Diabetes mellitus is an especially important risk factor for women and may, in fact, triple the risk for developing HF.91,324 Dysglycemia appears to be directly linked to risk, with HbA1c concentrations powerfully predicting incident HF. Those with HbA1c >10.5% had a nearly 4-fold increase in the risk for HF compared with those with a value of <6.5%.322 Current consensus advocates that clinicians should make every effort to control hyperglycemia, although such control has not yet been shown to reduce the subsequent risk of HF. Additionally, standard therapies for diabetes mellitus, such as use of ACE inhibitors or ARBs, can prevent the development of other risk factors for HF, such as renal dysfunction,325,326 and may themselves directly lower the likelihood of HF.327–329 Although risk models for the development of incident HF in patients with diabetes mellitus have been developed,323 their prospective use to reduce risk has not been validated. Despite the lack of supportive, prospective, randomized data, consensus exists that risk factor recognition and modification are vital for the prevention of HF among at-risk patients (eg, obese patients or patients with diabetes mellitus).
7.1.4. Recognition and Control of Other Conditions That May Lead to HF
A substantial genetic risk exists in some patients for the development of HF. As noted in Section 6.1, obtaining a 3-generation family history of HF is recommended. Adequate therapy of AF is advisable, given a clear association between uncontrolled heart rate and development of HF. Many therapeutic agents can exert important cardiotoxic effects, with consequent risk for HF, and clinicians should be aware of such risk. For example, cardiotoxic chemotherapy regimens (particularly anthracycline based) and trastuzumab may increase the risk for HF in certain patients330–332; it may be reasonable to evaluate those who are receiving (or who have received) such agents for LV dysfunction. The use of advanced echocardiographic techniques or biomarkers to identify increased HF risk in those receiving chemotherapy may be useful but remain unvalidated as yet.333
Tobacco use is strongly associated with risk for incident HF,92,320,334 and patients should be strongly advised about the hazards of smoking, with attendant efforts at quitting. Cocaine and amphetamines are anecdotally but strongly associated with HF, and their avoidance is mandatory. Although it is recognized that alcohol consumption is associated with subsequent development of HF,92,139,140 there is some uncertainty about the amount of alcohol ingested and the likelihood of developing HF, and there may be sex differences as well. Nevertheless, the heavy use of alcohol has repeatedly been associated with heightened risk for development of HF. Therefore, patients should be counseled about their alcohol intake.
Although several epidemiological studies have revealed an independent link between risk for incident HF and biomarkers such as natriuretic peptides,335,336 highly sensitive troponin,337 and measures of renal function such as creatinine, phosphorus, urinary albumin, or albumin-creatinine ratio,320,323,334,336,338–340 it remains unclear whether the risk for HF reflected by any of these biomarkers is modifiable. Although routine screening with BNP before echocardiography may be a cost-effective strategy to identify high-risk patients,341 routine measurement of biomarkers in stage A patients is not yet justified.
See Online Data Supplement 11 for additional data on stage A HF.
7.2. Stage B: Recommendations
See Table 12 for a summary of recommendations from this section.
In all patients with a recent or remote history of MI or ACS and reduced EF, ACE inhibitors should be used to prevent symptomatic HF and reduce mortality.342–344 In patients intolerant of ACE inhibitors, ARBs are appropriate unless contraindicated.314,345 (Level of Evidence: A)
In patients with structural cardiac abnormalities, including LV hypertrophy, in the absence of a history of MI or ACS, blood pressure should be controlled in accordance with clinical practice guidelines for hypertension to prevent symptomatic HF.27,94,311–313 (Level of Evidence: A)
Beta blockers should be used in all patients with a reduced EF to prevent symptomatic HF, even if they do not have a history of MI. (Level of Evidence: C)
To prevent sudden death, placement of an ICD is reasonable in patients with asymptomatic ischemic cardiomyopathy who are at least 40 days post-MI, have an LVEF of 30% or less, are on appropriate medical therapy, and have reasonable expectation of survival with a good functional status for more than 1 year.355 (Level of Evidence: B)
Class III: Harm
Nondihydropyridine calcium channel blockers with negative inotropic effects may be harmful in asymptomatic patients with low LVEF and no symptoms of HF after MI. (Level of Evidence: C)
Patients with reduced LVEF may not have HF symptoms and are most often identified during an evaluation for another disorder (eg, abnormal heart sounds, abnormal ECG, abnormal chest x-ray, hypertension or hypotension, an arrhythmia, acute MI, or pulmonary or systemic thromboembolic event). However, the cost-effectiveness of routine periodic population screening for asymptomatic reduced LVEF is not recommended at this time. Echocardiographic evaluation should be performed in selected patients who are at high risk of reduced LVEF (eg, those with a strong family history of cardiomyopathy, long-standing hypertension, previous MI, or those receiving cardiotoxic therapies). In addition, it should be acknowledged that many adults may have asymptomatic valvular abnormalities or congenital heart lesions that if unrecognized could lead to the development of clinical HF. Although these asymptomatic patients are in stage B as well, the management of valvular and congenital heart disease is beyond the scope of this guideline.
7.2.1. Management Strategies for Stage B
In general, all recommendations for patients with stage A HF also apply to those with stage B HF, particularly with respect to control of blood pressure in the patient with LV hypertrophy27,94,311,312 and the optimization of lipids with statins.349,356 CAD is a major risk factor for the development of HF and a key target for prevention of HF. The 5-year risk of developing HF after acute MI is 7% and 12% for men and women, respectively; for men and women between the ages of 40 and 69 and those >70 years of age, the risk is 22% and 25%, respectively.51 Current evidence supports the use of ACE inhibitors and (to a lower level of evidence) beta-blocker therapy to impede maladaptive LV remodeling in patients with stage B HF and low LVEF to improve mortality and morbidity.344 At 3-year follow-up, those patients treated with ACE inhibitors demonstrated combined endpoints of reduced hospitalization or death, a benefit that extended up to a 12-year follow-up.65 ARBs are reasonable alternatives to ACE inhibitors. In 1 study, losartan reduced adverse outcomes in a population with hypertension,357 and in another study of patients post-MI with low LVEF, valsartan was equivalent to captopril.345 Data with beta blockers are less convincing in a population with known CAD, although in 1 trial346 carvedilol therapy in patients with stage B and low LVEF was associated with a 31% relative risk reduction in adverse long-term outcomes. In patients with previously established structural heart disease, the administration of agents known to have negative inotropic properties such as nondihydropyridine calcium channel blockers and certain antiarrhythmics should be avoided.
Elevations in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure are major risk factors for developing LV hypertrophy, another form of stage B.91,92 Although the magnitude of benefit varies with the trial selection criteria, target blood pressure reduction, and HF criteria, effective hypertension treatment invariably reduces HF events. Consequently, long-term treatment of both systolic and diastolic hypertension reduces the risk of moving from stage A or B to stage C HF.93,94,311,329 Several large controlled studies have uniformly demonstrated that optimal blood pressure control decreases the risk of new HF by approximately 50%.96 It is imperative that strategies to control hypertension be part of any effort to prevent HF.
Clinicians should lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in accordance with published guidelines.27 Target levels of blood pressure lowering depend on major cardiovascular risk factors, (eg, CAD, diabetes mellitus, or renal disease).358 Thus, when an antihypertensive regimen is devised, optimal control of blood pressure should remain the primary goal, with the choice of drugs determined by the concomitant medical problems.
Diuretic-based antihypertensive therapy has been shown to prevent HF in a wide range of target populations.359,360 In refractory hypertensive patients, spironolactone (25 mg) should be considered as an additional agent.27 Eplerenone, in synergy with enalapril, has also demonstrated reduction in LV mass.361
ACE inhibitors and beta blockers are also effective in the prevention of HF.27 Nevertheless, neither ACE inhibitors nor beta blockers as single therapies are superior to other antihypertensive drug classes, including calcium channel blockers, in the reduction of all cardiovascular outcomes. However, in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, ACE inhibitors and ARBs significantly reduced the incidence of HF in patients.327–329 In contrast, calcium channel blockers and alpha blockers were less effective in preventing the HF syndrome, particularly in HFrEF.359
The Framingham studies have shown a 60% increased risk of death in patients with asymptomatic low LVEF compared with those with normal LVEF; almost half of these patients remained free of HF before their death.62–65 MADIT-II (Multicenter Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial II)362 demonstrated a 31% relative risk reduction in all-cause mortality in patients with post-MI with LVEF ≤30% receiving a prophylactic ICD compared with standard of care.355 These findings provided justification for broad adoption of ICDs for primary prevention of SCD in the post-MI setting with reduced LVEF, even in the absence of HF symptoms, that is, patients in stage B HF.
Several other ACCF/AHA guidelines addressing the appropriate management of patients with stage B—those with cardiac structural abnormalities but no symptoms of HF—are listed in Table 13.
See Online Data Supplement 12 for additional data on stage B HF.
7.3. Stage C
See Online Data Supplement 13 for additional data on stage C HF.
7.3.1. Nonpharmacological Interventions
22.214.171.124. Education: Recommendation
The self-care regimen for patients with HF is complex and multifaceted.363 Patients need to understand how to monitor their symptoms and weight fluctuations, restrict their sodium intake, take their medications as prescribed, and stay physically active. Education regarding these recommendations is necessary, albeit not always sufficient, to significantly improve outcomes. After discharge, many patients with HF need disease management programs, which are reviewed in Section 11.
A systematic review of 35 educational intervention studies for patients with HF demonstrated that education improved knowledge, self-monitoring, medication adherence, time to hospitalization, and days in the hospital.363 Patients who receive in-hospital education have higher knowledge scores at discharge and 1 year later when compared with those who did not receive in-hospital education.364 Data have called into question the survival benefit of discharge education.369,370 However, prior data have suggested that discharge education may result in fewer days of hospitalization, lower costs, and lower mortality rates within a 6-month follow-up.365 Patients educated in all 6 categories of the HF core measures from The Joint Commission were significantly less likely to be readmitted for any cause, including HF.366 Even a single home-based educational intervention for patients and families has been shown to decrease emergency visits and unplanned hospitalizations in adults with HF.367
See Online Data Supplement 14 for additional data on patient nonadherence.
126.96.36.199. Social Support
Social support is thought to buffer stress and promote treatment adherence and a healthy lifestyle.371 Most studies examining the relationship between social support and hospitalization in adults with HF have found that a lack of social support is associated with higher hospitalization rates 372,373 and mortality risk.374,375
188.8.131.52. Sodium Restriction: Recommendation
Sodium restriction is reasonable for patients with symptomatic HF to reduce congestive symptoms. (Level of Evidence: C)
Dietary sodium restriction is commonly recommended to patients with HF and is endorsed by many guidelines.18,376,377 The data on which this recommendation is drawn upon, however, are modest, and variances in protocols, fluid intake, measurement of sodium intake and compliance, and other clinical and therapeutic characteristics among these studies make it challenging to compare data and draw definitive conclusions. Observational data suggest an association between dietary sodium intake with fluid retention and risk for hospitalization.378,379 Other studies, however, have signaled a worsening neurohormonal profile with sodium restriction in HF.380–390 Sodium homeostasis is altered in patients with HF as opposed to healthy individuals, which may partially explain these trends. In most of these studies, patients were not receiving GDMT; no study to date has evaluated the effects of sodium restriction on neurohormonal activation and outcomes in optimally treated patients with HF. With the exception of 1 observational study that evaluated patients with HFpEF,383 all other studies have focused on patients with HFrEF. These data are mostly from white patients; when the differences in cardiovascular and renal pathophysiology among races are considered, the effects of sodium restriction in nonwhite patients with HF cannot be ascertained from these studies. To make this more complicated, the 3 RCTs that assessed outcomes with sodium restriction have all shown that lower sodium intake is associated with worse outcomes in patients with HFrEF.384–386
These limitations make it difficult to give precise recommendations about daily sodium intake and whether it should vary with respect to the type of HF (eg, HFrEF versus HFpEF), disease severity (eg, NYHA class), HF-related comorbidities (eg, renal dysfunction), or other characteristics (eg, age or race). Because of the association between sodium intake and hypertension, LV hypertrophy, and cardiovascular disease, the AHA recommendation for restriction of sodium to 1500 mg/d appears to be appropriate for most patients with stage A and B HF.387–392 However, for patients with stage C and D HF, currently there are insufficient data to endorse any specific level of sodium intake. Because sodium intake is typically high (>4 g/d) in the general population, clinicians should consider some degree (eg, <3 g/d) of sodium restriction in patients with stage C and D HF for symptom improvement.
184.108.40.206. Treatment of Sleep Disorders: Recommendation
Sleep disorders are common in patients with HF. A study of adults with chronic HF treated with evidence-based therapies found that 61% had either central or obstructive sleep apnea.397 Despite having less sleep time and sleep efficiency compared with those without HF, patients with HF, including those with documented sleep disorders, rarely report excessive daytime sleepiness.398 Thus, a high degree of suspicion for sleep disorders should be maintained for these patients. The decision to refer a patient to a sleep study should be based on clinical judgment.
The primary treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is nocturnal continuous positive airway pressure. In a major trial, continuous positive airway pressure for obstructive sleep apnea was effective in decreasing the apnea–hypopnea index, improving nocturnal oxygenation, increasing LVEF, lowering norepinephrine levels, and increasing the distance walked in 6 minutes; these benefits were sustained for up to 2 years.394 Smaller studies suggest that continuous positive airway pressure can improve cardiac function, sympathetic activity, and HRQOL in patients with HF and obstructive sleep apnea.395,396
See Online Data Supplement 15 for additional data on the treatment of sleep disorders.
220.127.116.11. Weight Loss
Obesity is defined as a BMI ≥30 kg/m2. Patients with HF who have a BMI between 30 and 35 kg/m2 have lower mortality and hospitalization rates than those with a BMI in the normal range.99 Weight loss may reflect cachexia caused by the higher total energy expenditure associated with HF compared with that of healthy sedentary subjects.399 The diagnosis of cardiac cachexia independently predicts a worse prognosis.191 At the other end of the continuum, morbidly obese patients may have worse outcomes compared with patients within the normal weight range and those who are obese. A U-shaped distribution curve has been suggested in which mortality is greatest in cachectic patients; lower in normal, overweight, and mildly obese patients; and higher again in more severely obese patients.400
Although there are anecdotal reports about symptomatic improvement after weight reduction in obese patients with HF,401,402 large-scale clinical trials on the role of weight loss in patients with HF with obesity have not been performed. Because of reports of development of cardiomyopathy, sibutramine is contraindicated in HF.403
18.104.22.168. Activity, Exercise Prescription, and Cardiac Rehabilitation: Recommendations
Exercise training in patients with HF is safe and has numerous benefits. Meta-analyses show that cardiac rehabilitation reduces mortality; improves functional capacity, exercise duration, and HRQOL; and reduces hospitalizations.409 Other benefits include improved endothelial function, blunted catecholamine spillover, increased peripheral oxygen extraction, and reduced hospital admission.405,407,410,411
Many RCTs of exercise training in HF have been conducted, but the statistical power of most was low.408 A major trial of exercise and HF randomly assigned 2331 patients (mean EF, 25%; ischemic etiology, 52%) to either exercise training for 3 months or usual care.406 In unadjusted analyses, there was no significant difference at the end of the study in either total mortality or hospitalizations. When adjusted for coronary heart disease risk factors, there was an 11% reduction in all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease mortality, or hospitalizations (P<0.03) in the exercise training group.406 A meta-analysis demonstrated improved peak oxygen consumption and decreased all-cause mortality with exercise.409
See Online Data Supplement 16 for additional data on cardiac exercise.
7.3.2. Pharmacological Treatment for Stage C HFrEF: Recommendations
Measures listed as Class I recommendations for patients in stages A and B are recommended where appropriate for patients in stage C. (Levels of Evidence: A, B, and C as appropriate)
22.214.171.124. Diuretics: Recommendation
Diuretics are recommended in patients with HFrEF who have evidence of fluid retention, unless contraindicated, to improve symptoms. (Level of Evidence: C)
Diuretics inhibit the reabsorption of sodium or chloride at specific sites in the renal tubules. Bumetanide, furosemide, and torsemide act at the loop of Henle (thus, the term loop diuretics), whereas thiazides, metolazone, and potassium-sparing agents (eg, spironolactone) act in the distal portion of the tubule.427,428 Loop diuretics have emerged as the preferred diuretic agents for use in most patients with HF. Thiazide diuretics may be considered in hypertensive patients with HF and mild fluid retention because they confer more persistent antihypertensive effects.
Controlled trials have demonstrated the ability of diuretic drugs to increase urinary sodium excretion and decrease physical signs of fluid retention in patients with HF.429,430 In intermediate-term studies, diuretics have been shown to improve symptoms and exercise tolerance in patients with HF431–433; however, diuretic effects on morbidity and mortality are not known. Diuretics are the only drugs used for the treatment of HF that can adequately control the fluid retention of HF. Appropriate use of diuretics is a key element in the success of other drugs used for the treatment of HF. The use of inappropriately low doses of diuretics will result in fluid retention. Conversely, the use of inappropriately high doses of diuretics will lead to volume contraction, which can increase the risk of hypotension and renal insufficiency.
126.96.36.199.1. Diuretics: Selection of Patients.
Diuretics should be prescribed to all patients who have evidence of, and to most patients with a prior history of, fluid retention. Diuretics should generally be combined with an ACE inhibitor, beta blocker, and aldosterone antagonist. Few patients with HF will be able to maintain target weight without the use of diuretics.
188.8.131.52.2. Diuretics: Initiation and Maintenance.
The most commonly used loop diuretic for the treatment of HF is furosemide, but some patients respond more favorably to other agents in this category (eg, bumetanide, torsemide) because of their increased oral bioavailability.434,435 Table 14 lists oral diuretics recommended for use in the treatment of chronic HF. In outpatients with HF, diuretic therapy is commonly initiated with low doses, and the dose is increased until urine output increases and weight decreases, generally by 0.5 to 1.0 kg daily. Further increases in the dose or frequency (ie, twice-daily dosing) of diuretic administration may be required to maintain an active diuresis and sustain weight loss. The ultimate goal of diuretic treatment is to eliminate clinical evidence of fluid retention. Diuretics are generally combined with moderate dietary sodium restriction. Once fluid retention has resolved, treatment with the diuretic should be maintained in some patients to prevent the recurrence of volume overload. Patients are commonly prescribed a fixed dose of diuretic, but the dose of these drugs frequently may need adjustment. In many cases, this adjustment can be accomplished by having patients record their weight each day and adjusting the diuretic dosage if weight increases or decreases beyond a specified range. Patients may become unresponsive to high doses of diuretic drugs if they consume large amounts of dietary sodium, are taking agents that can block the effects of diuretics (eg, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDs], including cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors)436–438 or have a significant impairment of renal function or perfusion.434 Diuretic resistance can generally be overcome by the intravenous administration of diuretics (including the use of continuous infusions)439 or combination of different diuretic classes (eg, metolazone with a loop diuretic).440–443
184.108.40.206.3. Diuretics: Risks of Treatment.
The principal adverse effects of diuretics include electrolyte and fluid depletion, as well as hypotension and azotemia. Diuretics can cause the depletion of potassium and magnesium, which can predispose patients to serious cardiac arrhythmias.444 The risk of electrolyte depletion is markedly enhanced when 2 diuretics are used in combination.
See Online Data Supplement 17 for additional data on diuretics.
220.127.116.11. ACE Inhibitors: Recommendation
18.104.22.168.1. ACE Inhibitors: Selection of Patients.
ACE inhibitors can reduce the risk of death and reduce hospitalization in HFrEF. The benefits of ACE inhibition were seen in patients with mild, moderate, or severe symptoms of HF and in patients with or without CAD. ACE inhibitors should be prescribed to all patients with HFrEF. Unless there is a contraindication, ACE inhibitors are used together with a beta blocker. Patients should not be given an ACE inhibitor if they have experienced life-threatening adverse reactions (ie, angioedema) during previous medication exposure or if they are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Clinicians should prescribe an ACE inhibitor with caution if the patient has very low systemic blood pressures (systolic blood pressure <80 mm Hg), markedly increased serum levels of creatinine (>3 mg/dL), bilateral renal artery stenosis, or elevated levels of serum potassium (>5.0 mEq/L).
22.214.171.124.2. ACE Inhibitors: Initiation and Maintenance.
The available data suggest that there are no differences among available ACE inhibitors in their effects on symptoms or survival.414 Treatment with an ACE inhibitor should be initiated at low doses (Table 15), followed by gradual dose increments if lower doses have been well tolerated. Renal function and serum potassium should be assessed within 1 to 2 weeks of initiation of therapy and periodically thereafter, especially in patients with preexisting hypotension, hyponatremia, diabetes mellitus, azotemia, or in those taking potassium supplements. In controlled clinical trials that were designed to evaluate survival, the dose of the ACE inhibitor was not determined by a patient’s therapeutic response but was increased until the predetermined target dose was reached.343,413,414 Clinicians should attempt to use doses that have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in clinical trials. If these target doses of an ACE inhibitor cannot be used or are poorly tolerated, intermediate doses should be used with the expectation that there are likely to be only small differences in efficacy between low and high doses. Abrupt withdrawal of treatment with an ACE inhibitor can lead to clinical deterioration and should be avoided.
126.96.36.199.3. ACE Inhibitors: Risks of Treatment.
The majority of the adverse reactions of ACE inhibitors can be attributed to the 2 principal pharmacological actions of these drugs: those related to angiotensin suppression and those related to kinin potentiation. Other types of adverse effects may also occur (eg, rash and taste disturbances). Up to 20% of patients will experience an ACE inhibitor–induced cough. With the use of ACE inhibitors, particular care should be given to the patient’s volume status, renal function, and concomitant medications (Sections 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206). However, most HF patients (85% to 90%) can tolerate these drugs.
See Online Data Supplement 18 for additional data on ACE inhibitors.
220.127.116.11. ARBs: Recommendations
Class III: Harm
Routine combined use of an ACE inhibitor, ARB, and aldosterone antagonist is potentially harmful for patients with HFrEF. (Level of Evidence: C)
ARBs were developed with the rationale that a) angiotensin II production continues in the presence of ACE inhibition, driven through alternative enzyme pathways and b) interference with the renin-angiotensin system without inhibition of kininase would produce all of the benefits of ACE inhibitors while minimizing the risk of adverse reactions to them. However, it is now known that some of the benefits of ACE inhibitors may be related to the accumulation of kinins rather than to the suppression of angiotensin II formation, whereas some of the adverse effects of ACE inhibitors in HF are related to the suppression of angiotensin II formation.
In several placebo-controlled studies, long-term therapy with ARBs produced hemodynamic, neurohormonal, and clinical effects consistent with those expected after interference with the renin-angiotensin system. Reduced hospitalization and mortality have been demonstrated. ACE inhibitors remain the first choice for inhibition of the renin-angiotensin system in systolic HF, but ARBs can now be considered a reasonable alternative.
18.104.22.168.1. ARBs: Selection of Patients.
ARBs are used in patients with HFrEF who are ACE inhibitor intolerant; an ACE-inhibition intolerance primarily related to cough is the most common indication. In addition, an ARB may be used as an alternative to an ACE inhibitor in patients who are already taking an ARB for another reason, such as hypertension, and who subsequently develop HF. Angioedema occurs in <1% of patients who take an ACE inhibitor, but it occurs more frequently in blacks. Because its occurrence may be life-threatening, clinical suspicion of this reaction justifies the subsequent avoidance of all ACE inhibitors for the lifetime of the patient. ACE inhibitors should not be initiated in any patient with a history of angioedema. Although ARBs may be considered as alternative therapy for patients who have developed angioedema while taking an ACE inhibitor, there are some patients who have also developed angioedema with ARBs, and caution is advised when substituting an ARB in a patient who has had angioedema associated with use of an ACE inhibitor.458–461
22.214.171.124.2. ARBs: Initiation and Maintenance.
When used, ARBs should be initiated with the starting doses shown in Table 15. Many of the considerations with initiation of an ARB are similar to those with initiation of an ACE inhibitor, as discussed previously. Blood pressure (including postural blood pressure changes), renal function, and potassium should be reassessed within 1 to 2 weeks after initiation and followed closely after changes in dose. Patients with systolic blood pressure <80 mm Hg, low serum sodium, diabetes mellitus, and impaired renal function merit close surveillance during therapy with inhibitors of the renin angiotensin-aldosterone system. Titration is generally achieved by doubling doses. For stable patients, it is reasonable to add therapy with beta-blocking agents before full target doses of either ACE inhibitors or ARBs are reached.
126.96.36.199.3. ARBs: Risks of Treatment.
The risks of ARBs are attributed to suppression of angiotensin stimulation. These risks of hypotension, renal dysfunction, and hyperkalemia are greater when combined with another inhibitor of this neurohormonal axis, such as ACE inhibitors or aldosterone antagonists.
See Online Data Supplement 19 for additional data on ARBs.
188.8.131.52. Beta Blockers: Recommendation
Use of 1 of the 3 beta blockers proven to reduce mortality (eg, bisoprolol, carvedilol, and sustained-release metoprolol succinate) is recommended for all patients with current or prior symptoms of HFrEF, unless contraindicated, to reduce morbidity and mortality.346,416–419,448 (Level of Evidence: A)
Long-term treatment with beta blockers can lessen the symptoms of HF, improve the patient’s clinical status, and enhance the patient’s overall sense of well-being.462–469 In addition, like ACE inhibitors, beta blockers can reduce the risk of death and the combined risk of death or hospitalization.117,447,448,470,471 These benefits of beta blockers were seen in patients with or without CAD and in patients with or without diabetes mellitus, as well as in women and blacks. The favorable effects of beta blockers were also observed in patients already taking ACE inhibitors.
Three beta blockers have been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of death in patients with chronic HFrEF: bisoprolol and sustained-release metoprolol (succinate), which selectively block beta-1–receptors; and carvedilol, which blocks alpha-1–, beta-1–, and beta-2–receptors. Positive findings with these 3 agents, however, should not be considered a beta-blocker class effect. Bucindolol lacked uniform effectiveness across different populations, and short-acting metoprolol tartrate was less effective in HF clinical trials. Beta-1 selective blocker nebivolol demonstrated a modest reduction in the primary endpoint of all-cause mortality or cardiovascular hospitalization but did not affect mortality alone in an elderly population that included patients with HFpEF.472
184.108.40.206.1. Beta Blockers: Selection of Patients.
Beta blockers should be prescribed to all patients with stable HFrEF unless they have a contraindication to their use or are intolerant of these drugs. Because of its favorable effects on survival and disease progression, a clinical trial–proven beta blocker should be initiated as soon as HFrEF is diagnosed. Even when symptoms are mild or improve with other therapies, beta-blocker therapy is important and should not be delayed until symptoms return or disease progression is documented. Therefore, even if patients have little disability and experience seemingly minimal symptomatic benefit, they should still be treated with a beta blocker to reduce the risks of disease progression, clinical deterioration, and sudden death.117,448,469–471
Patients need not take high doses of ACE inhibitors before initiation of beta-blocker therapy. In patients taking a low dose of an ACE inhibitor, the addition of a beta blocker produces a greater improvement in symptoms and reduction in the risk of death than does an increase in the dose of the ACE inhibitor, even to the target doses used in clinical trials.445,473 In patients with a current or recent history of fluid retention, beta blockers should not be prescribed without diuretics, because diuretics are needed to maintain sodium and fluid balance and prevent the exacerbation of fluid retention that can accompany the initiation of beta-blocker therapy.474,475 Beta blockers may be considered in patients who have reactive airway disease or asymptomatic bradycardia but should be used cautiously in patients with persistent symptoms of either condition.
220.127.116.11.2. Beta Blockers: Initiation and Maintenance.
Treatment with a beta blocker should be initiated at very low doses (Table 15), followed by gradual increments in dose if lower doses have been well tolerated. Patients should be monitored closely for changes in vital signs and symptoms during this uptitration period. Planned increments in the dose of a beta blocker should be delayed until any adverse effects observed with lower doses have disappeared. When such a cautious approach was used, most patients (approximately 85%) enrolled in clinical trials who received beta blockers were able to tolerate short- and long-term treatment with these drugs and achieve the maximum planned trial dose.117,447,448,470 Data show that beta blockers can be safely started before discharge even in patients hospitalized for HF, provided they do not require intravenous inotropic therapy for HF.476 Clinicians should make every effort to achieve the target doses of the beta blockers shown to be effective in major clinical trials. Even if symptoms do not improve, long-term treatment should be maintained to reduce the risk of major clinical events. Abrupt withdrawal of treatment with a beta blocker can lead to clinical deterioration and should be avoided.477
18.104.22.168.3. Beta Blockers: Risks of Treatment.
Initiation of treatment with a beta blocker may produce 4 types of adverse reactions that require attention and management: fluid retention and worsening HF; fatigue; bradycardia or heart block; and hypotension. The occurrence of fluid retention or worsening HF is not generally a reason for the permanent withdrawal of treatment. Such patients generally respond favorably to intensification of conventional therapy, and once treated, they remain excellent candidates for long-term treatment with a beta blocker. The slowing of heart rate and cardiac conduction produced by beta blockers is generally asymptomatic and thus requires no treatment; however, if the bradycardia is accompanied by dizziness or lightheadedness or if second- or third-degree heart block occurs, clinicians should decrease the dose of the beta blocker. Clinicians may minimize the risk of hypotension by administering the beta blocker and ACE inhibitor at different times during the day. Hypotensive symptoms may also resolve after a decrease in the dose of diuretics in patients who are volume depleted. If hypotension is accompanied by other clinical evidence of hypoperfusion, beta-blocker therapy should be decreased or discontinued pending further patient evaluation. The symptom of fatigue is multifactorial and is perhaps the hardest symptom to address with confidence. Although fatigue may be related to beta blockers, other causes of fatigue should be considered, including sleep apnea, overdiuresis, or depression.
See Online Data Supplement 20 for additional data on beta blockers.
22.214.171.124. Aldosterone Receptor Antagonists: Recommendations
Aldosterone receptor antagonists (or mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists) are recommended in patients with NYHA class II–IV HF and who have LVEF of 35% or less, unless contraindicated, to reduce morbidity and mortality. Patients with NYHA class II HF should have a history of prior cardiovascular hospitalization or elevated plasma natriuretic peptide levels to be considered for aldosterone receptor antagonists. Creatinine should be 2.5 mg/dL or less in men or 2.0 mg/dL or less in women (or estimated glomerular filtration rate >30 mL/min/1.73 m2), and potassium should be less than 5.0 mEq/L. Careful monitoring of potassium, renal function, and diuretic dosing should be performed at initiation and closely followed thereafter to minimize risk of hyperkalemia and renal insufficiency.425,426,478 (Level of Evidence: A)
Aldosterone receptor antagonists are recommended to reduce morbidity and mortality following an acute MI in patients who have LVEF of 40% or less who develop symptoms of HF or who have a history of diabetes mellitus, unless contraindicated.446 (Level of Evidence: B)
Class III: Harm
Inappropriate use of aldosterone receptor antagonists is potentially harmful because of life-threatening hyperkalemia or renal insufficiency when serum creatinine is greater than 2.5 mg/dL in men or greater than 2.0 mg/dL in women (or estimated glomerular filtration rate <30 mL/min/1.73 m2), and/or potassium greater than 5.0 mEq/L.479,480 (Level of Evidence: B)
The landmark RALES trial (Randomized Aldactone Evaluation Study)425 showed a 30% reduction in all-cause mortality as well as a reduced risk of SCD and HF hospitalizations with the use of spironolactone in patients with chronic HFrEF and LVEF <35%. Eplerenone has been shown to reduce all-cause deaths, cardiovascular deaths, or HF hospitalizations in a wider range of patients with HFrEF.426,446
126.96.36.199.1. Aldosterone Receptor Antagonists: Selection of Patients.
Clinicians should strongly consider the addition of the aldosterone receptor antagonists spironolactone or eplerenone for all patients with HFrEF who are already on ACE inhibitors (or ARBs) and beta blockers. Although the entry criteria for the trials of aldosterone receptor antagonists excluded patients with a creatinine >2.5 mg/dL, the majority of patients had much lower creatinine (95% of patients had creatinine ≤1.7 mg/dL).425,426,446 In contrast, one third of patients in EMPHASIS-HF (Eplerenone in Mild Patients Hospitalization and Survival Study in Heart Failure) had an estimated glomerular filtration rate of <60 mL/min/1.73 m2.426 Note also that the entry criteria for the EMPHASIS-HF trial were age of at least ≥55 years, NYHA class II symptoms, and an EF of no more than 30% (or, if >30% to 35%, a QRS duration of >130 ms on ECG). To minimize the risk of life-threatening hyperkalemia in euvolemic patients with HFrEF, patients should have initial serum creatinine <2.5 mg/dL (or an estimated glomerular filtration rate >30 mL/min/1.73 m2) without recent worsening and serum potassium <5.0 mEq/L without a history of severe hyperkalemia. Careful patient selection and risk assessment with availability of close monitoring is essential in initiating the use of aldosterone receptor antagonists.
188.8.131.52.2. Aldosterone Receptor Antagonists: Initiation and Maintenance.
Spironolactone should be initiated at a dose of 12.5 to 25 mg daily, while eplerenone should be initiated at a dose of 25 mg/d, increasing to 50 mg daily. For those with concerns of hyperkalemia or marginal renal function (estimated glomerular filtration rate 30 to 49 mL/min/1.73 m2), an initial regimen of every-other-day dosing is advised (Table 16). After initiation of aldosterone receptor antagonists, potassium supplementation should be discontinued (or reduced and carefully monitored in those with a history of hypokalemia; Table 17), and patients should be counseled to avoid foods high in potassium and NSAIDs. Potassium levels and renal function should be rechecked within 2 to 3 days and again at 7 days after initiation of an aldosterone receptor antagonist. Subsequent monitoring should be dictated by the general clinical stability of renal function and fluid status but should occur at least monthly for the first 3 months and every 3 months thereafter. The addition or an increase in dosage of ACE inhibitors or ARBs should trigger a new cycle of monitoring.
There are limited data to support or refute that spironolactone and eplerenone are interchangeable. The perceived difference between eplerenone and spironolactone is the selectivity of aldosterone receptor antagonism and not the effectiveness of blocking mineralocorticoid activity. In RALES, there was increased incidence (10%) of gynecomastia or breast pain with use of spironolactone (a nonselective antagonist). The incidence of these adverse events was <1% in EPHESUS (Eplerenone Post-Acute Myocardial Infarction Heart Failure Efficacy and Survival Study) and EMPHASIS-HF without any difference in adverse events between the eplerenone and placebo.426,446
184.108.40.206.3. Aldosterone Receptor Antagonists: Risks of Treatment.
The major risk associated with use of aldosterone receptor antagonists is hyperkalemia due to inhibition of potassium excretion, ranging from 2% to 5% in large clinical trials425,426,446 to 24% to 36% in population-based registries.479,480 Routine triple combination of an ACE inhibitor, ARB, and aldosterone receptor antagonist should be avoided.
The development of potassium levels >5.5 mEq/L (approximately 12% in EMPHASIS-HF426) should generally trigger discontinuation or dose reduction of the aldosterone receptor antagonist unless other causes are identified. The development of worsening renal function should lead to careful evaluation of the entire medical regimen and consideration for stopping the aldosterone receptor antagonist. Patients should be instructed specifically to stop the aldosterone receptor antagonist during an episode of diarrhea or dehydration or while loop diuretic therapy is interrupted.
220.127.116.11. Hydralazine and Isosorbide Dinitrate: Recommendations
The combination of hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate is recommended to reduce morbidity and mortality for patients self-described as African Americans with NYHA class III–IV HFrEF receiving optimal therapy with ACE inhibitors and beta blockers, unless contraindicated.423,424 (Level of Evidence: A)
A combination of hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate can be useful to reduce morbidity or mortality in patients with current or prior symptomatic HFrEF who cannot be given an ACE inhibitor or ARB because of drug intolerance, hypotension, or renal insufficiency, unless contraindicated.449 (Level of Evidence: B)
In a large-scale trial that compared the vasodilator combination with placebo, the use of hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate reduced mortality but not hospitalizations in patients with HF treated with digoxin and diuretics but not an ACE inhibitor or beta blocker.449 However, in 2 other trials that compared the vasodilator combination with an ACE inhibitor, the ACE inhibitor produced more favorable effects on survival.412,482 A post hoc retrospective analysis of these vasodilator trials demonstrated particular efficacy of isosorbide dinitrate and hydralazine in the African American cohort.423 In a subsequent trial, which was limited to patients self-described as African American, the addition of a fixed-dose combination of hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate to standard therapy with an ACE inhibitor or ARB, a beta blocker, and an aldosterone antagonist offered significant benefit.424
18.104.22.168.1. Hydralazine and Isosorbide Dinitrate: Selection of Patients.
The combination of hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate is recommended for African Americans with HFrEF who remain symptomatic despite concomitant use of ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, and aldosterone antagonists. Whether this benefit is evident in non–African Americans with HFrEF remains to be investigated. The combination of hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate should not be used for the treatment of HFrEF in patients who have no prior use of standard neurohumoral antagonist therapy and should not be substituted for ACE inhibitor or ARB therapy in patients who are tolerating therapy without difficulty. Despite the lack of data with the vasodilator combination in patients who are intolerant of ACE inhibitors or ARBs, the combined use of hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate may be considered as a therapeutic option in such patients.
22.214.171.124.2. Hydralazine and Isosorbide Dinitrate: Initiation and Maintenance.
If the fixed-dose combination is available, the initial dose should be 1 tablet containing 37.5 mg of hydralazine hydrochloride and 20 mg of isosorbide dinitrate 3 times daily. The dose can be increased to 2 tablets 3 times daily for a total daily dose of 225 mg of hydralazine hydrochloride and 120 mg of isosorbide dinitrate. When the 2 drugs are used separately, both pills should be administered at least 3 times daily. Initial low doses of the drugs given separately may be progressively increased to a goal similar to that achieved in the fixed-dose combination trial.424
126.96.36.199.3. Hydralazine and Isosorbide Dinitrate: Risks of Treatment.
Adherence to this combination has generally been poor because of the large number of tablets required, frequency of administration, and the high incidence of adverse reactions.412,449 Frequent adverse effects include headache, dizziness, and gastrointestinal complaints. Nevertheless, the benefit of these drugs can be substantial and warrant a slower titration of the drugs to enhance tolerance of the therapy.
See Table 18 for a summary of the treatment benefit of GDMT in HFrEF.
188.8.131.52. Digoxin: Recommendation
Several placebo-controlled trials have shown that treatment with digoxin for 1 to 3 months can improve symptoms, HRQOL, and exercise tolerance in patients with mild to moderate HF.485–491 These benefits have been seen regardless of the underlying rhythm (normal sinus rhythm or AF), cause of HF (ischemic or nonischemic cardiomyopathy), or concomitant therapy (with or without ACE inhibitors). In a long-term trial that primarily enrolled patients with NYHA class II or III HF, treatment with digoxin for 2 to 5 years had no effect on mortality but modestly reduced the combined risk of death and hospitalization.484
184.108.40.206.1. Digoxin: Selection of Patients.
Clinicians may consider adding digoxin in patients with persistent symptoms of HFrEF during GDMT. Digoxin may also be added to the initial regimen in patients with severe symptoms who have not yet responded symptomatically during GDMT.
Alternatively, treatment with digoxin may be delayed until the patient’s response to GDMT has been defined and may be used only in patients who remain symptomatic despite therapy with the neurohormonal antagonists. If a patient is taking digoxin but not an ACE inhibitor or a beta blocker, treatment with digoxin should not be withdrawn, but appropriate therapy with the neurohormonal antagonists should be instituted. Digoxin is prescribed occasionally in patients with HF and AF, but beta blockers are usually more effective when added to digoxin in controlling the ventricular response, particularly during exercise.492–495
Patients should not be given digoxin if they have significant sinus or atrioventricular block unless the block has been addressed with a permanent pacemaker. The drug should be used cautiously in patients taking other drugs that can depress sinus or atrioventricular nodal function or affect digoxin levels (eg, amiodarone or a beta blocker), even though such patients usually tolerate digoxin without difficulty.
220.127.116.11.2. Digoxin: Initiation and Maintenance.
Therapy with digoxin is commonly initiated and maintained at a dose of 0.125 to 0.25 mg daily. Low doses (0.125 mg daily or every other day) should be used initially if the patient is >70 years of age, has impaired renal function, or has a low lean body mass.496 Higher doses (eg, digoxin 0.375 to 0.50 mg daily) are rarely used or needed in the management of patients with HF. There is no reason to use loading doses of digoxin to initiate therapy in patients with HF.
Doses of digoxin that achieve a plasma concentration of drug in the range of 0.5 to 0.9 ng/mL are suggested, given the limited evidence currently available. There has been no prospective, randomized evaluation of the relative efficacy or safety of different plasma concentrations of digoxin. Retrospective analysis of 2 studies of digoxin withdrawal found that prevention of worsening HF by digoxin at lower concentrations in plasma (0.5 to 0.9 ng/mL) was as great as that achieved at higher concentrations.497,498
18.104.22.168.3. Digoxin: Risks of Treatment.
When administered with attention to dose and factors that alter its metabolism, digoxin is well tolerated by most patients with HF.499 The principal adverse reactions occur primarily when digoxin is administered in large doses, especially in the elderly, but large doses are not necessary for clinical benefits.500–502 The major adverse effects include cardiac arrhythmias (eg, ectopic and re-entrant cardiac rhythms and heart block), gastrointestinal symptoms (eg, anorexia, nausea, and vomiting), and neurological complaints (eg, visual disturbances, disorientation, and confusion). Overt digoxin toxicity is commonly associated with serum digoxin levels >2 ng/mL.
However, toxicity may also occur with lower digoxin levels, especially if hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia, or hypothyroidism coexists.503,504 The concomitant use of clarithromycin, dronedarone, erythromycin, amiodarone, itraconazole, cyclosporine, propafenone, verapamil, or quinidine can increase serum digoxin concentrations and may increase the likelihood of digoxin toxicity.505–507 The dose of digoxin should be reduced if treatment with these drugs is initiated. In addition, a low lean body mass and impaired renal function can also elevate serum digoxin levels, which may explain the increased risk of digoxin toxicity in elderly patients.
22.214.171.124. Other Drug Treatment
126.96.36.199.1. Anticoagulation: Recommendations
Patients with chronic HF with permanent/persistent/paroxysmal AF and an additional risk factor for cardioembolic stroke (history of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, previous stroke or transient ischemic attack, or ≥75 years of age) should receive chronic anticoagulant therapy.*508–514 (Level of Evidence: A)
The selection of an anticoagulant agent (warfarin, dabigatran, apixaban, or rivaroxaban) for permanent/persistent/paroxysmal AF should be individualized on the basis of risk factors, cost, tolerability, patient preference, potential for drug interactions, and other clinical characteristics, including time in the international normalized ratio therapeutic range if the patient has been taking warfarin. (Level of Evidence: C)
Class III: No Benefit
Patients with chronic HFrEF are at an increased risk of thromboembolic events due to stasis of blood in dilated hypokinetic cardiac chambers and in peripheral blood vessels521,522 and perhaps due to increased activity of procoagulant factors.523 However, in large-scale studies, the risk of thromboembolism in clinically stable patients has been low (1% to 3% per year), even in those with a very depressed EF and echocardiographic evidence of intracardiac thrombi.524–528 These rates are sufficiently low to limit the detectable benefit of anticoagulation in these patients.
In several retrospective analyses, the risk of thromboembolic events was not lower in patients with HF taking warfarin than in patients not treated with antithrombotic drugs.524,526,527 The use of warfarin was associated with a reduction in major cardiovascular events and death in patients with HF in some studies but not in others.518,529,530 An RCT that compared the outcome of patients with HFrEF assigned to aspirin, warfarin, or clopidogrel was completed,519 but no therapy appeared to be superior. Another trial compared aspirin with warfarin in patients with reduced LVEF, sinus rhythm, and no cardioembolic source and demonstrated no difference in either the primary outcome of death, stroke, or intracerebral hemorrhage.520 There was also no difference in the combined outcome of death, ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, MI, or HF hospitalization. There was a significant increase in major bleeding with warfarin. Given that there is no overall benefit of warfarin and an increased risk of bleeding, there is no compelling evidence to use warfarin or aspirin in patients with HFrEF in the absence of a specific indication.
The efficacy of long-term warfarin for the prevention of stroke in patients with AF is well established. However, the ACCF/AHA guidelines for AF6 recommend use of the CHADS2 [Congestive heart failure, Hypertension, Age ≥75 years, Diabetes mellitus, previous Stroke/transient ischemic attack (doubled risk weight)] score to assess patient risk for adverse outcomes before initiating anticoagulation therapy. More recently, a revised score, CHADS2-VASc, has been suggested as more applicable to a wider range of patients,531 but this revised score has not yet been fully studied in patients with HF. Regardless of whether patients receive rhythm or rate control, anticoagulation is recommended for patients with HF and AF for stroke prevention in the presence of at least 1 additional risk factor. For patients with HF and AF in the absence of another cardioembolic risk factor, anticoagulation is reasonable.
Trials of newer oral anticoagulants have compared efficacy and safety with warfarin therapy rather than placebo. Several new oral anticoagulants are now available, including the factor Xa inhibitors apixaban and rivaroxaban and the direct thrombin inhibitor dabigatran.508,512–514 These drugs have few food and drug interactions compared with warfarin and no need for routine coagulation monitoring or dose adjustment. The fixed dosing together with fewer interactions may simplify patient management, particularly with the polypharmacy commonly seen in HF. These drugs have a potential for an improved benefit–risk profile compared with warfarin, which may increase their use in practice, especially in those at increased bleeding risk. However, important adverse effects have been noted with these new anticoagulants, including gastrointestinal distress, which may limit compliance. At present, there is no commercially available agent to reverse the effect of these newer drugs. Trials comparing new anticoagulants with warfarin have enrolled >10 000 patients with HF. As more detailed evaluations of the comparative benefits and risks of these newer agents in patients with HF are still pending, the writing committee considered their use in patients with HF and nonvalvular AF as an alternative to warfarin to be reasonable.
The benefit afforded by low-dose aspirin in patients with systolic HF but no previous MI or known CAD (or specifically in patients proven free of CAD) remains unknown. A Cochrane review failed to find sufficient evidence to support its use.532 Retrospective and observational studies again had conflicting results and used very different criteria to identify patients as nonischemic, with some demonstrating protection from aspirin overall532 or only in patients with more severe depression of systolic function,518 whereas others found no benefit from aspirin.530 The high incidence of diabetes mellitus and hypertension in most HF studies, combined with a failure to use objective methods to exclude CAD in enrolled patients, may leave this question unanswered. Currently, data are insufficient to recommend aspirin for empiric primary prevention in HF patients known to be free of atherosclerotic disease and without additional risk factors.
See Online Data Supplement 21 for additional data on anticoagulants.
188.8.131.52.2. Statins: Recommendation
Class III: No Benefit
Statin therapy has been broadly implicated in prevention of adverse cardiovascular events, including new-onset HF. Originally designed to lower cholesterol in patients with cardiovascular disease, statins are increasingly recognized for their favorable effects on inflammation, oxidative stress, and vascular performance. Several observational and post hoc analyses from large clinical trials have implied that statin therapy may provide clinical benefit to patients with HF.533–536 However, 2 large RCTs have demonstrated that rosuvastatin has neutral effects on long-term outcomes in patients with chronic HFrEF when added to standard GDMT.537,538 At present, statin therapy should not be prescribed primarily for the treatment of HF to improve clinical outcomes.
See Online Data Supplement 22 for additional data on statin therapy.
184.108.40.206.3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Recommendation
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) supplementation is reasonable to use as adjunctive therapy in patients with NYHA class II–IV symptoms and HFrEF or HFpEF, unless contraindicated, to reduce mortality and cardiovascular hospitalizations.539,540 (Level of Evidence: B)
Supplementation with omega-3 PUFA has been evaluated as an adjunctive therapy for cardiovascular disease and HF.541 Trials in primary and secondary prevention of coronary heart disease showed that omega-3 PUFA supplementation results in a 10% to 20% risk reduction in fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events. The GISSI (Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell’Infarto miocardico) Prevenzione trial demonstrated a 21% reduction in death among post-MI patients taking 1 g of omega-3 PUFA (850 mg to 882 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] and docosahexaenoic acid [DHA] as ethyl esters in the ratio of 1:1.2).542 Post hoc subgroup analysis revealed that this reduction in mortality and SCD was concentrated in the approximately 2000 patients with reduced LVEF.539 The GISSI-HF investigators randomized 6975 patients in NYHA class II–IV chronic HF to 1 g daily of omega-3 PUFA (850 mg to 882 mg EPA/DHA) or matching placebo. Death from any cause was reduced from 29% with placebo to 27% in those treated with omega-3 PUFA.540 The outcome of death or admission to hospital for a cardiovascular event was also significantly reduced. In reported studies, this therapy has been safe and very well tolerated.540–543 Further investigations are needed to better define optimal dosing and formulation of omega-3 PUFA supplements. The use of omega-3 PUFA supplementation is reasonable as adjunctive therapy in patients with chronic HF.
See Online Data Supplement 23 for additional data on omega-3 fatty acids.
220.127.116.11. Drugs of Unproven Value or That May Worsen HF: Recommendations
Class III: No Benefit
Class III: Harm
Drugs known to adversely affect the clinical status of patients with current or prior symptoms of HFrEF are potentially harmful and should be avoided or withdrawn whenever possible (eg, most antiarrhythmic drugs, most calcium channel–blocking drugs [except amlodipine], NSAIDs, or thiazolidinediones).546–557 (Level of Evidence: B)
Long-term use of infused positive inotropic drugs is potentially harmful for patients with HFrEF, except as palliation for patients with end-stage disease who cannot be stabilized with standard medical treatment (see recommendations for stage D). (Level of Evidence: C)
18.104.22.168.1. Nutritional Supplements and Hormonal Therapies.
Patients with HF, particularly those treated with diuretics, may become deficient in vitamins and micronutrients. Several nutritional supplements (eg, coenzyme Q10, carnitine, taurine, and antioxidants) and hormonal therapies (eg, growth hormone or thyroid hormone) have been proposed for the treatment of HF.558–563 Testosterone has also been evaluated for its beneficial effect in HF with modest albeit preliminary effects.564 Aside from replenishment of documented deficiencies, published data have failed to demonstrate benefit for routine vitamin, nutritional, or hormonal supplementation.565 In most data or other literature regarding nutraceuticals, there are issues, including outcomes analyses, adverse effects, and drug-nutraceutical interactions, that remain unresolved.
No clinical trials have demonstrated improved survival rates with use of nutritional or hormonal therapy, with the exception of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation as previously noted. Some studies have suggested a possible effect for coenzyme Q10 in reduced hospitalization rates, dyspnea, and edema in patients with HF, but these benefits have not been seen uniformly.566–569 Because of possible adverse effects and drug interactions of nutritional supplements and their widespread use, clinicians caring for patients with HF should routinely inquire about their use. Until more data are available, nutritional supplements or hormonal therapies are not recommended for the treatment of HF.
22.214.171.124.2. Antiarrhythmic Agents.
With atrial and ventricular arrhythmias contributing to the morbidity and mortality of HF, various classes of antiarrhythmic agents have been repeatedly studied in large RCTs. Instead of conferring survival benefit, however, nearly all antiarrhythmic agents increase mortality in the HF population.548–550 Most antiarrhythmics have some negative inotropic effect and some, particularly the class I and class III antiarrhythmic drugs, have proarrhythmic effects. Hence, class I sodium channel antagonists and the class III potassium channel blockers d-sotalol and dronedarone should be avoided in patients with HF. Amiodarone and dofetilide are the only antiarrhythmic agents to have neutral effects on mortality in clinical trials of patients with HF and thus are the preferred drugs for treating arrhythmias in this patient group.570–573
See Online Data Supplement 24 for additional data on antiarrhythmic agents.
126.96.36.199.3. Calcium Channel Blockers: Recommendation
Class III: No Benefit
By reducing peripheral vasoconstriction and LV afterload, calcium channel blockers were thought to have a potential role in the management of chronic HF. However, first-generation dihydropyridine and nondihydropyridine calcium channel blockers also have myocardial depressant activity. Several clinical trials have demonstrated either no clinical benefit or even worse outcomes in patients with HF treated with these drugs.546,547,551–553 Despite their greater selectivity for calcium channels in vascular smooth muscle cells, second-generation calcium channel blockers, dihydropyridine derivatives such as amlodipine and felodipine, have failed to demonstrate any functional or survival benefit in patients with HF.575–579 Amlodipine, however, may be considered in the management of hypertension or ischemic heart disease in patients with HF because it is generally well tolerated and had neutral effects on morbidity and mortality in large RCTs. In general, calcium channel blockers should be avoided in patients with HFrEF.
See Online Data Supplement 25 for additional data on calcium channel blockers.
188.8.131.52.4. Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs.
NSAIDs inhibit the synthesis of renal prostaglandins, which mediate vasodilation in the kidneys and directly inhibit sodium resorption in the thick ascending loop of Henle and collecting tubule. Hence, NSAIDs can cause sodium and water retention and blunt the effects of diuretics. Several observational cohort studies have revealed increased morbidity and mortality in patients with HF using either nonselective or selective NSAIDs.554–556,580–582
See Online Data Supplement 26 for additional data on NSAIDs.
Thiazolidinediones increase insulin sensitivity by activating nuclear peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma. Expressed in virtually all tissues, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma also regulates sodium reabsorption in the collecting ducts of the kidney. In clinical trials, thiazolidinediones have been associated with increased incidence of HF events, even in those without any prior history of clinical HF.557,583–588
See Table 19 for a summary of recommendations from this section and Table 20 for strategies for achieving optimal GDMT; see Online Data Supplement 27 for additional data on thiazolidinediones.
7.3.3. Pharmacological Treatment for Stage C HFpEF: Recommendations
See Table 21 for a summary of recommendations from this section.
Diuretics should be used for relief of symptoms due to volume overload in patients with HFpEF. (Level of Evidence: C)
Coronary revascularization is reasonable in patients with CAD in whom symptoms (angina) or demonstrable myocardial ischemia is judged to be having an adverse effect on symptomatic HFpEF despite GDMT. (Level of Evidence: C)
Management of AF according to published clinical practice guidelines in patients with HFpEF is reasonable to improve symptomatic HF (Section 9.1). (Level of Evidence: C)
The use of beta-blocking agents, ACE inhibitors, and ARBs in patients with hypertension is reasonable to control blood pressure in patients with HFpEF. (Level of Evidence: C)
The use of ARBs might be considered to decrease hospitalizations for patients with HFpEF.589 (Level of Evidence: B)
Class III: No Benefit
Routine use of nutritional supplements is not recommended for patients with HFpEF. (Level of Evidence: C)
Trials using comparable and efficacious agents for HFrEF have generally been disappointing when used in patients with HFpEF.590 Thus, most of the recommended therapies for HFpEF are directed at symptoms, especially comorbidities, and risk factors that may worsen cardiovascular disease.
Blood pressure control concordant with existing hypertension guidelines remains the most important recommendation in patients with HFpEF. Evidence from an RCT has shown that improved blood pressure control reduces hospitalization for HF,591 decreases cardiovascular events, and reduces HF mortality in patients without prevalent HF.311 In hypertensive patients with HFpEF, aggressive treatment (often with several drugs with complementary mechanisms of action) is recommended. ACE inhibitors and/or ARBs are often considered as first-line agents. Specific blood pressure targets in HFpEF have not been firmly established; thus, the recommended targets are those used for general hypertensive populations.
CAD is common in patients with HFpEF592; however, there are no studies to determine the impact of revascularization on symptoms or outcomes specifically in patients with HFpEF. In general, contemporary revascularization guidelines10,12 should be used in the care of patients with HFpEF and concomitant CAD. Specific to this population, it might be reasonable to consider revascularization in patients for whom ischemia appears to contribute to HF symptoms, although this determination can be difficult.
Theoretical mechanisms for the worsening of HF symptoms by AF among patients with HFpEF include shortened diastolic filling time with tachycardia and the loss of atrial contribution to LV diastolic filling. Conversely, chronotropic incompetence is also a concern. Slowing the heart rate is useful in tachycardia but not in normal resting heart rate; a slow heart rate prolongs diastasis and worsens chronotropic incompetence. Currently, there are no specific trials of rate versus rhythm control in HFpEF.
7.3.4. Device Therapy for Stage C HFrEF: Recommendations
See Table 22 for a summary of recommendations from this section.
ICD therapy is recommended for primary prevention of SCD to reduce total mortality in selected patients with nonischemic DCM or ischemic heart disease at least 40 days post-MI with LVEF of 35% or less and NYHA class II or III symptoms on chronic GDMT, who have reasonable expectation of meaningful survival for more than 1 year.†355,593 (Level of Evidence: A)
CRT is indicated for patients who have LVEF of 35% or less, sinus rhythm, left bundle-branch block (LBBB) with a QRS duration of 150 ms or greater, and NYHA class II, III, or ambulatory IV symptoms on GDMT. (Level of Evidence: A for NYHA class III/IV 38,78,116,594; Level of Evidence: B for NYHA class II595,596)
ICD therapy is recommended for primary prevention of SCD to reduce total mortality in selected patients at least 40 days post-MI with LVEF of 30% or less, and NYHA class I symptoms while receiving GDMT, who have reasonable expectation of meaningful survival for more than 1 year.†362,597,598 (Level of Evidence: B)
CRT can be useful for patients who have LVEF of 35% or less, sinus rhythm, a non-LBBB pattern with a QRS duration of 150 ms or greater, and NYHA class III/ambulatory class IV symptoms on GDMT.78,116,594,596 (Level of Evidence: A)
CRT can be useful for patients who have LVEF of 35% or less, sinus rhythm, LBBB with a QRS duration of 120 to 149 ms, and NYHA class II, III, or ambulatory IV symptoms on GDMT.78,116,594–596,599 (Level of Evidence: B)
CRT can be useful in patients with AF and LVEF of 35% or less on GDMT if a) the patient requires ventricular pacing or otherwise meets CRT criteria and b) atrioventricular nodal ablation or pharmacological rate control will allow near 100% ventricular pacing with CRT.600–605 (Level of Evidence: B)
CRT can be useful for patients on GDMT who have LVEF of 35% or less and are undergoing placement of a new or replacement device implantation with anticipated requirement for significant (>40%) ventricular pacing.155,602,606,607 (Level of Evidence: C)
The usefulness of implantation of an ICD is of uncertain benefit to prolong meaningful survival in patients with a high risk of nonsudden death as predicted by frequent hospitalizations, advanced frailty, or comorbidities such as systemic malignancy or severe renal dysfunction.†608–611 (Level of Evidence: B)
CRT may be considered for patients who have LVEF of 35% or less, sinus rhythm, a non-LBBB pattern with QRS duration of 120 to 149 ms, and NYHA class III/ambulatory class IV on GDMT.596,612 (Level of Evidence: B)
CRT may be considered for patients who have LVEF of 35% or less, sinus rhythm, a non-LBBB pattern with a QRS duration of 150 ms or greater, and NYHA class II symptoms on GDMT.595,596 (Level of Evidence: B)
CRT may be considered for patients who have LVEF of 30% or less, ischemic etiology of HF, sinus rhythm, LBBB with a QRS duration of 150 ms or greater, and NYHA class I symptoms on GDMT.595,596 (Level of Evidence: C)
Class III: No Benefit
CRT is not indicated for patients whose comorbidities and/or frailty limit survival with good functional capacity to less than 1 year.38 (Level of Evidence: C)
See Figure 2, indications for CRT therapy algorithm.
184.108.40.206. Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator
Patients with reduced LVEF are at increased risk for ventricular tachyarrhythmias leading to SCD. Sudden death in HFrEF has been substantially decreased by neurohormonal antagonists that alter disease progression and also protect against arrhythmias. Nonetheless, patients with systolic dysfunction remain at increased risk for SCD due to ventricular tachyarrhythmias. Patients who have had sustained ventricular tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation, unexplained syncope, or cardiac arrest are at highest risk for recurrence. Indications for ICD therapy as secondary prevention of SCD in these patients are also discussed in the ACCF/AHA/HRS device-based therapy guideline.4
The use of ICDs for primary prevention of SCD in patients with HFrEF without prior history of arrhythmias or syncope has been evaluated in multiple RCTs. ICD therapy for primary prevention was demonstrated to reduce all-cause mortality. For patients with LVEF ≤30% after remote MI, use of ICD therapy led to a 31% decrease in mortality over 20 months, for an absolute decrease of 5.6%.362 For patients with mild to moderate symptoms of HF with LVEF ≤35% due either to ischemic or nonischemic etiology, there was a 23% decrease in mortality over a 5-year period, for an absolute decrease of 7.2%.593 For both these trials, the survival benefit appeared after the first year. Other smaller trials were consistent with this degree of benefit, except for patients within the first 40 days after acute MI, in whom SCD was decreased but there was an increase in other events such that there was no net benefit for survival.598,614 Both SCD and total mortality are highest in patients with HFrEF with class IV symptoms, in whom ICDs are not expected to prolong meaningful survival and are not indicated except in those for whom heart transplantation or MCS is anticipated.
The use of ICDs for primary prevention in patients with HFrEF should be considered only in the setting of optimal GDMT and with a minimum of 3 to 6 months of appropriate medical therapy. A repeat assessment of ventricular function is appropriate to assess any recovery of ventricular function on GDMT that would be above the threshold where an ICD is indicated. This therapy will often improve ventricular function to a range for which the risk of sudden death is too low to warrant placement of an ICD. In addition, the trials of ICDs for primary prevention of SCD studied patients who were already on GDMT.
ICDs are highly effective in preventing death from ventricular arrhythmias, but frequent shocks can decrease HRQOL and lead to posttraumatic stress syndrome.615 Therapy with antiarrhythmic drugs and catheter ablation for ventricular tachycardia can decrease the number of ICD shocks given and can sometimes improve ventricular function in cases of very frequent ventricular tachyarrhythmias. Refined device programming can optimize pacing therapies to avert the need for shocks, minimize inappropriate shocks, and avoid aggravation of HF by frequent ventricular pacing. Although there have been occasional recalls of device generators, these are exceedingly rare in comparison to complications related to intracardiac device leads, such as fracture and infection.
ICDs are indicated only in patients with a reasonable expectation of survival with good functional status beyond a year, but the range of uncertainty remains wide. The complex decision about the relative risks and benefits of ICDs for primary prevention of SCD must be individualized for each patient. Unlike other therapies that can prolong life with HF, the ICD does not modify the disease except in conjunction with CRT. Patients with multiple comorbidities have a higher rate of implant complications and higher competing risks of death from noncardiac causes.616 Older patients, who are at a higher risk of nonsudden death, are often underrepresented in the pivotal trials where the average patient is <65 years of age.617 The major trials for secondary prevention of SCD showed no benefit in patients >75 years of age,618 and a meta-analysis of primary prevention of SCD also suggested lesser effectiveness of ICDs.619 Populations of patients with multiple HF hospitalizations, particularly in the setting of chronic kidney disease, have a median survival rate of <2 years, during which the benefit of the ICD may not be realized.608 There is widespread recognition of the need for further research to identify patients most and least likely to benefit from ICDs for primary prevention of SCD in HF. Similar considerations apply to the decision to replace the device generator.
Consideration of ICD implantation is highly appropriate for shared decision making.30 The risks and benefits carry different relative values depending on patient goals and preferences. Discussion should include the potential for SCD and nonsudden death from HF or noncardiac conditions. Information should be provided in a format that patients can understand about the estimated efficacy, safety, and potential complications of an ICD and the ease with which defibrillation can be inactivated if no longer desired.620 As the prevalence of implantable devices increases, it is essential that clearly defined processes be in place to support patients and families when decisions about deactivation arise.621
220.127.116.11. Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy
In approximately one third of patients, HF progression is accompanied by substantial prolongation of the QRS interval, which is associated with worse outcome.622 Multisite ventricular pacing (termed CRT or biventricular pacing) can improve ventricular contractile function, diminish secondary mitral regurgitation, reverse ventricular remodeling, and sustain improvement in LVEF. Increased blood pressure with CRT can allow increased titration of neurohormonal antagonist medications that may further contribute to improvement. Benefits were proven initially in trials of patients with NYHA class III or ambulatory class IV HF symptoms and QRS duration of ≥120 to 130 ms. These results have included a decrease of approximately 30% in rehospitalization and reductions in all-cause mortality in the range of 24% to 36%. Improvement in survival is evident as early as the first 3 months of therapy. Functional improvements have been demonstrated on average as a 1 to 2 mL/kg/min increase in peak oxygen consumption, 50- to 70-meter increase in 6-minute walk distance, and a reduction of 10 points or more in the 0- to 105-point scale of the Minnesota Living With Heart Failure Questionnaire, all considered clinically significant. These results include patients with a wide range of QRS duration and, in most cases, sinus rhythm.78,116,594,623
Although it is still not possible to predict with confidence which patients will improve with CRT, further experiences have provided some clarification. Benefit appears confined largely to patients with a QRS duration of at least 150 ms and LBBB pattern.624–628 The weight of the evidence has been accumulated from patients with sinus rhythm, with meta-analyses indicating substantially less clinical benefit in patients with permanent AF.604,605 Because effective CRT requires a high rate of ventricular pacing,629 the benefit for patients with AF is most evident in patients who have undergone atrioventricular nodal ablation, which ensures obligate ventricular pacing.601–603
In general, most data derive from patients with class III symptoms. Patients labeled as having class IV symptoms account for a small minority of patients enrolled. Furthermore, these patients, characterized as “ambulatory” NYHA class IV, are not refractory due to fluid retention, frequently hospitalized for HF, or dependent on continuous intravenous inotropic therapy. CRT should not be considered as “rescue” therapy for stage D HF. In addition, patients with significant noncardiac limitations are unlikely to derive major benefit from CRT.
Since publication of the 2009 HF guideline,38 new evidence supports extension of CRT to patients with milder symptoms. LV remodeling was consistently reversed or halted, with benefit also in reduction of HF hospitalizations.595,596,599 In this population with low 1-year mortality, reduction of HF hospitalization dominated the composite primary endpoints, but a mortality benefit was subsequently observed in a 2-year extended follow-up study630 and in a meta-analysis of 5 trials of CRT in mild HF that included 4213 patients with class II symptoms.631 Overall benefits in class II HF were noted only in patients with QRS ≥150 ms and LBBB, with an adverse impact with shorter QRS duration or non-LBBB.
The entry criterion for LVEF in CRT trials has ranged from ≤30% to ≤40%. The trials with class III–IV symptoms included patients with LVEF ≤35%.78,116,594 The 2 individual trials showing improvement in mortality with class II HF included patients with LVEF ≤30%.632,633 Trials demonstrating significant improvement in LV size and EF have included patients with LVEF ≤35%115 and LVEF ≤40%,599 which also showed reduction in the secondary endpoint of time to hospitalization and a reduction in the composite of clinical HF events comparable to that of all of the CRT trials.624 The congruence of evidence from the totality of CRT trials with regard to remodeling and HF events supports a common threshold of 35% for benefit from CRT in patients with class II, III, and IV HF symptoms. For patients with class II HF, all but 1 of the trials tested CRT in combination with an ICD, whereas there is evidence for benefit with both CRT-defibrillator and CRT alone in patients with class III–IV symptoms.78,116
Although the weight of evidence is substantial for patients with class II symptoms, these CRT trials have included only 372 patients with class I symptoms, most with concomitant ICD for the postinfarction indication.595,599 Considering the risk–benefit ratio for class I, more concern is raised by the early adverse events, which in 1 trial occurred in 13% of patients with CRT-ICD compared with 6.7% in patients with ICD only.596 On the basis of limited data from MADIT-CRT (Multicenter Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial-Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy), CRT-ICD may be considered for patients with class I symptoms >40 days after MI, LVEF ≤30%, sinus rhythm, LBBB, and QRS ≥150 ms.595
These indications for CRT all include expectation for ongoing GDMT and diuretic therapy as needed for fluid retention. In addition, regular monitoring is required after device implantation because adjustment of HF therapies and reprogramming of device intervals may be required. The trials establishing the benefit of these interventions were conducted in centers offering expertise in both implantation and follow-up. Recommendations for CRT are made with the expectation that they will be performed in centers with expertise and outcome comparable to that of the trials that provide the bases of evidence. The benefit–risk ratio for this intervention would be anticipated to be diminished for patients who do not have access to these specialized care settings or who are nonadherent.
See Online Data Supplements 28 and 29 for additional data on device therapy and CRT.
7.4. Stage D
7.4.1. Definition of Advanced HF
A subset of patients with chronic HF will continue to progress and develop persistently severe symptoms despite maximum GDMT. Various terminologies have been used to describe this group of patients who are classified with ACCF/AHA stage D HF, including “advanced HF,” “end-stage HF,” and “refractory HF.” In the 2009 ACCF/AHA HF guideline, stage D was defined as “patients with truly refractory HF who might be eligible for specialized, advanced treatment strategies, such as MCS, procedures to facilitate fluid removal, continuous inotropic infusions, or cardiac transplantation or other innovative or experimental surgical procedures, or for end-of-life care, such as hospice.”38 The European Society of Cardiology has developed a definition of advanced HF with objective criteria that can be useful32 (Table 23). There are clinical clues that may assist clinicians in identifying patients who are progressing toward advanced HF (Table 24). The Interagency Registry for Mechanically Assisted Circulatory Support (INTERMACS) has developed 7 profiles that further stratify patients with advanced HF (Table 25).635
7.4.2. Important Considerations in Determining If the Patient Is Refractory
Patients considered to have stage D HF should be thoroughly evaluated to ascertain that the diagnosis is correct and that there are no remediable etiologies or alternative explanations for advanced symptoms. For example, it is important to determine that HF and not a concomitant pulmonary disorder is the basis of dyspnea. Similarly, in those with presumed cardiac cachexia, other causes of weight loss should be ruled out. Likewise, other reversible factors such as thyroid disorders should be treated. Severely symptomatic patients presenting with a new diagnosis of HF can often improve substantially if they are initially stabilized. Patients should also be evaluated for nonadherence to medications,636–639 sodium restriction,640 and/or daily weight monitoring.641 Finally, a careful review of prior medical management should be conducted to verify that all evidence-based therapies likely to improve clinical status have been considered.
See Online Data Supplements 30 and 31 for additional data on therapies—important considerations and sildenafil.
7.4.3. Water Restriction: Recommendation
Fluid restriction (1.5 to 2 L/d) is reasonable in stage D, especially in patients with hyponatremia, to reduce congestive symptoms. (Level of Evidence: C)
Recommendations for fluid restriction in HF are largely driven by clinical experience. Sodium and fluid balance recommendations are best implemented in the context of weight and symptom monitoring programs. Routine strict fluid restriction in all patients with HF regardless of symptoms or other considerations does not appear to result in significant benefit.644 Limiting fluid intake to around 2 L/d is usually adequate for most hospitalized patients who are not diuretic resistant or significantly hyponatremic. In 1 study, patients on a similar sodium and diuretic regimen showed higher readmission rates with higher fluid intake, suggesting that fluid intake affects HF outcomes.385 Strict fluid restriction may best be used in patients who are either refractory to diuretics or have hyponatremia. Fluid restriction, especially in conjunction with sodium restriction, enhances volume management with diuretics. Fluid restriction is important to manage hyponatremia, which is relatively common with advanced HF and portends a poor prognosis.645,646 Fluid restriction may improve serum sodium concentration; however, it is difficult to achieve and maintain. In hot or low-humidity climates, excessive fluid restriction predisposes patients with advanced HF to the risk of heat stroke. Hyponatremia in HF is primarily due to an inability to excrete free water. Norepinephrine and angiotensin II activation result in decreased sodium delivery to the distal tubule, whereas arginine vasopressin increases water absorption from the distal tubule. In addition, angiotensin II also promotes thirst. Thus, sodium and fluid restriction in advanced patients with HF is important.
7.4.4. Inotropic Support: Recommendations
Until definitive therapy (eg, coronary revascularization, MCS, heart transplantation) or resolution of the acute precipitating problem, patients with cardiogenic shock should receive temporary intravenous inotropic support to maintain systemic perfusion and preserve end-organ performance. (Level of Evidence: C)
Short-term, continuous intravenous inotropic support may be reasonable in those hospitalized patients presenting with documented severe systolic dysfunction who present with low blood pressure and significantly depressed cardiac output to maintain systemic perfusion and preserve end-organ performance.592,649,650 (Level of Evidence: B)
Long-term, continuous intravenous inotropic support may be considered as palliative therapy for symptom control in select patients with stage D HF despite optimal GDMT and device therapy who are not eligible for either MCS or cardiac transplantation.651–653 (Level of Evidence: B)
Class III: Harm
Long-term use of either continuous or intermittent, intravenous parenteral positive inotropic agents, in the absence of specific indications or for reasons other than palliative care, is potentially harmful in the patient with HF.416,654–659 (Level of Evidence: B)
Use of parenteral inotropic agents in hospitalized patients without documented severe systolic dysfunction, low blood pressure, or impaired perfusion and evidence of significantly depressed cardiac output, with or without congestion, is potentially harmful.592,649,650 (Level of Evidence: B)
Despite improving hemodynamic compromise, positive inotropic agents have not demonstrated improved outcomes in patients with HF in either the hospital or outpatient setting.416,654–658 Regardless of their mechanism of action (eg, inhibition of phosphodiesterase, stimulation of adrenergic or dopaminergic receptors, calcium sensitization), chronic oral inotrope treatment increased mortality, mostly related to arrhythmic events. Parenteral inotropes, however, remain as an option to help the subset of patients with HF who are refractory to other therapies and are suffering consequences from end-organ hypoperfusion. Inotropes should be considered only in such patients with systolic dysfunction who have low cardiac index and evidence of systemic hypoperfusion and/or congestion (Table 26). To minimize adverse effects, lower doses are preferred. Similarly, the ongoing need for inotropic support and the possibility of discontinuation should be regularly assessed.
See Online Data Supplements 32 and 33 for additional data on inotropes.
7.4.5. Mechanical Circulatory Support: Recommendations
MCS is beneficial in carefully selected‡ patients with stage D HFrEF in whom definitive management (eg, cardiac transplantation) or cardiac recovery is anticipated or planned.660–667 (Level of Evidence: B)
Nondurable MCS, including the use of percutaneous and extracorporeal ventricular assist devices (VADs), is reasonable as a “bridge to recovery” or “bridge to decision” for carefully selected‡ patients with HFrEF with acute, profound hemodynamic compromise.668–671 (Level of Evidence: B)
MCS has emerged as a viable therapeutic option for patients with advanced stage D HFrEF refractory to optimal GDMT and cardiac device intervention. Since its initial use 50 years ago for postcardiotomy shock,676 the implantable VAD continues to evolve.
Designed to assist the native heart, VADs are differentiated by the implant location (intracorporeal versus extracorporeal), approach (percutaneous versus surgical), flow characteristic (pulsatile versus continuous), pump mechanism (volume displacement, axial, centrifugal), and the ventricle(s) supported (left, right, biventricular). VADs are effective in both the short-term (hours to days) management of acute decompensated, hemodynamically unstable HFrEF that is refractory to inotropic support, and the long-term (months to years) management of stage D chronic HFrEF. Nondurable or temporary, MCS provides an opportunity for decisions about the appropriateness of transition to definitive management such as cardiac surgery or durable, that is, permanent, MCS or, in the case of improvement and recovery, suitability for device removal. Nondurable MCS thereby may be helpful as either a bridge to decision or a bridge to recovery.
More common scenarios for MCS, however, are long-term strategies, including 1) bridge to transplantation, 2) bridge to candidacy, and 3) destination therapy. Bridge to transplant and destination therapy have the strongest evidence base with respect to survival, functional capacity, and HRQOL benefits.
Data from INTERMACS provides valuable information on risk factors and outcomes for patients undergoing MCS. The greatest risk factors for death among patients undergoing bridge to transplant include acuity and severity of clinical condition and evidence of right ventricular failure.677 MCS may also be used as a bridge to candidacy. Retrospective studies have shown reduction in pulmonary pressures with MCS therapy in patients with HF considered to have “fixed” pulmonary hypertension.661–663 Thus, patients who may be transplant-ineligible due to irreversible severe pulmonary hypertension may become eligible with MCS support over time. Other bridge-to-candidacy indications may include obesity and tobacco use in patients who are otherwise candidates for cardiac transplantation. There is ongoing interest in understanding how MCS facilitates LV reverse remodeling. Current scientific and translational research in the area aims to identify clinical, cellular, molecular, and genomic markers of cardiac recovery in the patient with VAD.678,679
See Online Data Supplements 34 and 35 for additional data on MCS and left VADs.
7.4.6. Cardiac Transplantation: Recommendation
Evaluation for cardiac transplantation is indicated for carefully selected patients with stage D HF despite GDMT, device, and surgical management.680 (Level of Evidence: C)
Cardiac transplantation is considered the gold standard for the treatment of refractory end-stage HF. Since the first successful cardiac transplantation in 1967, advances in immunosuppressive therapy have vastly improved the long-term survival of transplant recipients with a 1-, 3-, and 5-year posttransplant survival rate of 87.8%, 78.5%, and 71.7% in adults, respectively.681 Similarly, cardiac transplantation has been shown to improve functional status and HRQOL.682–688 The greatest survival benefit is seen in those patients who are at highest risk of death from advanced HF.689 Cardiopulmonary exercise testing helps refine candidate selection.690–696 Data suggest acceptable posttransplant outcomes in patients with reversible pulmonary hypertension,697 hypertrophic cardiomyopathy,698 peripartum cardiomyopathy,699 restrictive cardiomyopathy,700,701 and muscular dystrophy.702 Selected patients with stage D HF and poor prognosis should be referred to a cardiac transplantation center for evaluation and transplant consideration. Determination of HF prognosis is addressed in Sections 6.1.2 and 7.4.2. The listing criteria and evaluation and management of patients undergoing cardiac transplantation are described in detail by the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation.680
8. The Hospitalized Patient
8.1. Classification of Acute Decompensated HF
Hospitalization for HF is a growing and major public health issue.703 Presently, HF is the leading cause of hospitalization among patients >65 years of age51; the largest percentage of expenditures related to HF are directly attributable to hospital costs. Moreover, in addition to costs, hospitalization for acutely decompensated HF represents a sentinel prognostic event in the course of many patients with HF, with a high risk for recurrent hospitalization (eg, 50% at 6 months) and a 1-year mortality rate of approximately 30%.211,704 The AHA has published a scientific statement about this condition.705
There is no widely accepted nomenclature for HF syndromes requiring hospitalization. Patients are described as having “acute HF,” “acute HF syndromes,” or “acute(ly) decompensated HF”; while the third has gained greatest acceptance, it too has limitations, for it does not make the important distinction between those with a de novo presentation of HF from those with worsening of previously chronic stable HF.
Data from HF registries have clarified the profile of patients with HF requiring hospitalization.107,704,706,707 Characteristically, such patients are elderly or near elderly, equally male or female, and typically have a history of hypertension, as well as other medical comorbidities, including chronic kidney disease, hyponatremia, hematologic abnormalities, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.107,706,708–713 A relatively equal percentage of patients with acutely decompensated HF have impaired versus preserved LV systolic function707,714,715; clinically, patients with preserved systolic function are older, more likely to be female, to have significant hypertension, and to have less CAD. The overall morbidity and mortality for both groups is high.
Hospitalized patients with HF can be classified into important subgroups. These include patients with acute coronary ischemia, accelerated hypertension and acutely decompensated HF, shock, and acutely worsening right HF. Patients who develop HF decompensation after surgical procedures also bear mention. Each of these various categories of HF has specific etiologic factors leading to decompensation, presentation, management, and outcomes.
Noninvasive modalities can be used to classify the patient with hospitalized HF. The history and physical examination allows estimation of a patient’s hemodynamic status, that is, the degree of congestion (“dry” versus “wet”), as well as the adequacy of their peripheral perfusion (“warm” versus “cold”)716 (Figure 4). Chest x-ray is variably sensitive for the presence of interstitial or alveolar edema, even in the presence of elevated filling pressures. Thus, a normal chest x-ray does not exclude acutely decompensated HF.717 The utility of natriuretic peptides in patients with acutely decompensated HF has been described in detail in Section 6.3.1. Both BNP and NT-proBNP are useful for the identification or exclusion of acutely decompensated HF in dyspneic patients,247,249,250,718,719 particularly in the context of uncertain diagnosis.720–722 Other options for diagnostic evaluation of patients with suspected acutely decompensated HF, such as acoustic cardiography,723 bioimpedance vector monitoring,724 or noninvasive cardiac output monitoring725 are not yet validated.
8.2. Precipitating Causes of Decompensated HF: Recommendations
ACS precipitating acute HF decompensation should be promptly identified by ECG and serum biomarkers, including cardiac troponin testing, and treated optimally as appropriate to the overall condition and prognosis of the patient. (Level of Evidence: C)
Common precipitating factors for acute HF should be considered during initial evaluation, as recognition of these conditions is critical to guide appropriate therapy. (Level of Evidence: C)
ACS is an important cause of worsening or new-onset HF.726 Although acute ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction can be readily apparent on an ECG, other ACS cases may be more challenging to diagnose. Complicating the clinical scenario is that many patients with acute HF, with or without CAD, have serum troponin levels that are elevated.727
However, many other patients may have low levels of detectable troponins not meeting criteria for an acute ischemic event.278,728 Registry data have suggested that the use of coronary angiography is low for patients hospitalized with decompensated HF, and opportunities to diagnose important CAD may be missed.729 For the patient with newly discovered HF, clinicians should always consider the possibility that CAD is an underlying cause of HF.726
Besides ACS, several other precipitating causes of acute HF decompensation must be carefully assessed to inform appropriate treatment, optimize outcomes, and prevent future acute events in patients with HF.730 See list below.
Common Factors That Precipitate Acute Decompensated HF
Nonadherence with medication regimen, sodium and/or fluid restriction
Acute myocardial ischemia
Uncorrected high blood pressure
AF and other arrhythmias
Recent addition of negative inotropic drugs (eg, verapamil, nifedipine, diltiazem, beta blockers)
Initiation of drugs that increase salt retention (eg, steroids, thiazolidinediones, NSAIDs)
Excessive alcohol or illicit drug use
Endocrine abnormalities (eg, diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism)
Concurrent infections (eg, pneumonia, viral illnesses)
Additional acute cardiovascular disorders (eg, valve disease endocarditis, myopericarditis, aortic dissection)
Hypertension is an important contributor to acute HF, particularly among blacks, women, and those with HFpEF.731 In the ADHERE registry, almost 50% of patients admitted with HF had blood pressure >140/90 mm Hg.107 Abrupt discontinuation of antihypertensive therapy may precipitate worsening HF. The prevalence of AF in patients with acute HF is >30%.731 Infection increases metabolic demands in general. Pulmonary infections, which are common in patients with HF, may add hypoxia to the increased metabolic demands and are associated with worse outcomes.730 The sepsis syndrome is associated with reversible myocardial depression that is likely mediated by cytokine release.732 Patients with HF are hypercoagulable, and the possibility of pulmonary embolus as an etiology of acute decompensation should be considered. Deterioration of renal function can be both a consequence and contributor to decompensated HF. Restoration of normal thyroid function in those with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism may reverse abnormal cardiovascular function.733 In patients treated with amiodarone, thyroid disturbances should be suspected.
Excessive sodium and fluid intake may precipitate acute HF.379,384 Medication nonadherence for financial or other reasons is a major cause of hospital admission.734 Several drugs may precipitate acute HF (eg, calcium channel blockers, antiarrhythmic agents, glucocorticoids, NSAIDs and cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors, thiazolidinediones, and over-the-counter agents like pseudoephedrine). Finally, excessive alcohol intake and use of illicit drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, also need to be investigated as potential causes of HF decompensation.
See Online Data Supplement 37 for additional data on comorbidities in the hospitalized patient.
8.3. Maintenance of GDMT During Hospitalization: Recommendations
In patients with HFrEF experiencing a symptomatic exacerbation of HF requiring hospitalization during chronic maintenance treatment with GDMT, it is recommended that GDMT be continued in the absence of hemodynamic instability or contraindications.195,735,736 (Level of Evidence: B)
Initiation of beta-blocker therapy is recommended after optimization of volume status and successful discontinuation of intravenous diuretics, vasodilators, and inotropic agents. Beta-blocker therapy should be initiated at a low dose and only in stable patients. Caution should be used when initiating beta blockers in patients who have required inotropes during their hospital course.195,735,736 (Level of Evidence: B)
The patient’s maintenance HF medications should be carefully reviewed on admission, and it should be decided whether adjustments should be made as a result of the hospitalization. In the majority of patients with HFrEF who are admitted to the hospital, oral HF therapy should be continued, or even uptitrated, during hospitalization. It has been demonstrated that continuation of ACE inhibitors or ARBs and beta blockers for most patients is well tolerated and results in better outcomes.195,735,736 Withholding of, or reduction in, beta-blocker therapy should be considered only in patients hospitalized after recent initiation or increase in beta-blocker therapy or with marked volume overload or marginal/low cardiac output. Patients admitted with significant worsening of renal function should be considered for a reduction in, or temporary discontinuation of ACE inhibitors, ARBs, and/or aldosterone antagonists until renal function improves. Although it is important to ensure that evidence-based medications are instituted before hospital discharge, it is equally critical to reassess medications on admission and adjust their administration in light of the worsening HF.
8.4. Diuretics in Hospitalized Patients: Recommendations
If patients are already receiving loop diuretic therapy, the initial intravenous dose should equal or exceed their chronic oral daily dose and should be given as either intermittent boluses or continuous infusion. Urine output and signs and symptoms of congestion should be serially assessed, and the diuretic dose should be adjusted accordingly to relieve symptoms, reduce volume excess, and avoid hypotension.739 (Level of Evidence: B)
The effect of HF treatment should be monitored with careful measurement of fluid intake and output, vital signs, body weight that is determined at the same time each day, and clinical signs and symptoms of systemic perfusion and congestion. Daily serum electrolytes, urea nitrogen, and creatinine concentrations should be measured during the use of intravenous diuretics or active titration of HF medications. (Level of Evidence: C)
Patients with significant fluid overload should be initially treated with loop diuretics given intravenously during hospitalization. Therapy should begin in the emergency department without delay, as early therapy has been associated with better outcomes.37,738 Patients should be carefully monitored, including serial evaluation of volume status and systemic perfusion. Monitoring of daily weight, supine and standing vital signs, and fluid input and output is necessary for daily management. Assessment of daily electrolytes and renal function should be performed while intravenous diuretics are administered or HF medications are actively titrated. Intravenous loop diuretics have the potential to reduce glomerular filtration rate, further worsen neurohumoral activation, and produce electrolyte disturbances. Thus, although the use of diuretics may relieve symptoms, their impact on mortality has not been well studied. Diuretics should be administered at doses sufficient to achieve optimal volume status and relieve congestion without inducing an excessively rapid reduction in intravascular volume, which could result in hypotension, renal dysfunction, or both. Because loop diuretics have a relatively short half-life, sodium reabsorption in the tubules will occur once the tubular concentration of the diuretics declines. Therefore, limiting sodium intake and dosing the diuretic continuously or multiple times per day will enhance diuretic effectiveness.434,737,746–748
Some patients may present with moderate to severe renal dysfunction such that the diuretic response may be blunted, necessitating higher initial diuretic doses. In many cases, reduction of fluid overload may improve congestion and improve renal function, particularly if significant venous congestion is reduced.749 Clinical experience suggests it is difficult to determine whether congestion has been adequately treated in many patients, and registry data have confirmed that patients are frequently discharged after a net weight loss of only a few pounds. Although patients may rapidly improve symptomatically, they may remain congested or hemodynamically compromised. Routine use of serial natriuretic peptide measurement or Swan-Ganz catheter has not been conclusively shown to improve outcomes among these patients. Nevertheless, careful evaluation of all physical findings, laboratory parameters, weight change, and net fluid change should be considered before discharge.
When a patient does not respond to initial intravenous diuretics, several options may be considered. Efforts should be made to make certain that congestion persists and that another hemodynamic profile or alternate disease process is not evident. If there is doubt about the fluid status, consideration should be given for assessment of filling pressures and cardiac output using right-heart catheterization. If volume overload is confirmed, the dose of the loop diuretic should be increased to ensure that adequate drug levels reach the kidney. Adding a second diuretic, typically a thiazide, can improve diuretic responsiveness.435,442,443 Theoretically, continuous diuretic infusion may enhance diuresis because continuous diuretic delivery to the nephron avoids rebound sodium and fluid reabsorption.440,441,750,751 However, the DOSE (Diuretic Optimization Strategies Evaluation) trial did not find any significant difference between continuous infusion versus intermittent bolus strategies for symptoms, diuresis, or outcomes.739 It is reasonable to try an alternate approach of using either bolus or continuous infusion therapy different from the initial strategy among patients who are resistant to diuresis. Finally, some data suggest that low-dose dopamine infusion in addition to loop diuretics may improve diuresis and better preserve renal function, although ongoing trials will provide further data on this effect.744
See Online Data Supplement 17 for additional data on diuretics.
8.5. Renal Replacement Therapy—Ultrafiltration: Recommendations
Ultrafiltration may be considered for patients with obvious volume overload to alleviate congestive symptoms and fluid weight.752 (Level of Evidence: B)
Ultrafiltration may be considered for patients with refractory congestion not responding to medical therapy. (Level of Evidence: C)
If all diuretic strategies are unsuccessful, ultrafiltration may be considered. Ultrafiltration moves water and small- to medium-weight solutes across a semipermeable membrane to reduce volume overload. Because the electrolyte concentration is similar to plasma, relatively more sodium can be removed than by diuretics.753–755 Initial studies supporting use of ultrafiltration in HF were small but provided safety and efficacy data in acute HF.755–757 Use of ultrafiltration in HF has been shown to reduce neurohormone levels and increase diuretic responsiveness. In a larger trial of 200 unselected patients with acute HF, ultrafiltration did reduce weight compared with bolus or continuous diuretics at 48 hours, had similar effects on the dyspnea score compared with diuretics, and improved readmission rate at 90 days.752 A randomized acute HF trial in patients with cardiorenal syndrome and persistent congestion has failed to demonstrate a significant advantage of ultrafiltration over bolus diuretic therapy.758,759 Cost, the need for veno-venous access, provider experience, and nursing support remain concerns about the routine use of ultrafiltration. Consultation with a nephrologist is appropriate before initiating ultrafiltration, especially in circumstances where the non-nephrology provider does not have sufficient experience with ultrafiltration.
See Online Data Supplements 17 and 38 for additional data on diuretics versus ultrafiltration in acute decompensated HF and worsening renal function and mortality.
8.6. Parenteral Therapy in Hospitalized HF: Recommendation
If symptomatic hypotension is absent, intravenous nitroglycerin, nitroprusside, or nesiritide may be considered an adjuvant to diuretic therapy for relief of dyspnea in patients admitted with acutely decompensated HF.760–763 (Level of Evidence: A)
The different vasodilators include 1) intravenous nitroglycerin, 2) sodium nitroprusside, and 3) nesiritide.
Intravenous nitroglycerin acts primarily through venodilation, lowers preload, and may help to rapidly reduce pulmonary congestion.764,765 Patients with HF and hypertension, coronary ischemia, or significant mitral regurgitation are often cited as ideal candidates for the use of intravenous nitroglycerin. However, tachyphylaxis to nitroglycerin may develop within 24 hours, and up to 20% of those with HF may develop resistance to even high doses.766–768
Sodium nitroprusside is a balanced preload-reducing venodilator and afterload-reducing arteriodilator that also dilates the pulmonary vasculature.769 Data demonstrating efficacy are limited, and invasive hemodynamic blood pressure monitoring (such as an arterial line) is typically required; in such cases, blood pressure and volume status should be monitored frequently. Nitroprusside has the potential for producing marked hypotension and is usually used in the intensive care setting as well; longer infusions of the drug have been rarely associated with thiocyanate toxicity, particularly in the setting of renal insufficiency. Nitroprusside is potentially of value in severely congested patients with hypertension or severe mitral valve regurgitation complicating LV dysfunction.
Nesiritide (human BNP) reduces LV filling pressure but has variable effects on cardiac output, urinary output, and sodium excretion. An initial study demonstrated that the severity of dyspnea is reduced more rapidly compared with diuretics alone.760 A large randomized trial in patients with acute decompensated HF demonstrated nesiritide had no impact on mortality, rehospitalization, or renal function, a small but statistically significant impact on dyspnea, and an increased risk of hypotension.762 Because nesiritide has a longer effective half-life than nitroglycerin or nitroprusside, adverse effects such as hypotension may persist longer. Overall, presently there are no data that suggest that intravenous vasodilators improve outcomes in the patient hospitalized with HF; as such, use of intravenous vasodilators is limited to the relief of dyspnea in the hospitalized HF patient with intact blood pressure. Administration of intravenous vasodilators in patients with HFpEF should be done with caution because these patients are typically more volume sensitive.
The use of inotropic support as indicated for hospitalized HF with shock or impending shock and/or end-organ perfusion limitations is addressed in Section 7.4.4. See Table 26 for drug therapies and Online Data Supplements 32 and 33 for additional information on inotropic support.
See Online Data Supplement 39 for additional data on nesiritide.
8.7. Venous Thromboembolism Prophylaxis in Hospitalized Patients: Recommendation
A patient admitted to the hospital with decompensated HF should receive venous thromboembolism prophylaxis with an anticoagulant medication if the risk–benefit ratio is favorable.21,770 (Level of Evidence: B)
HF has long been recognized as affording additional risk for venous thromboembolic disease, associated with a number of pathophysiologic changes, including reduced cardiac output, increased systemic venous pressure, and chemical changes promoting blood clotting. When patients are hospitalized for decompensated HF or when patients with chronic stable HF are hospitalized for other reasons, they are at increased risk for venous thromboembolic disease, although accurate numerical estimates are lacking in the literature.
Most early data on the effectiveness of different anticoagulant regimens to reduce the incidence of venous thromboembolic disease in hospitalized patients were either observational, retrospective reports776,777 or prospective studies using a variety of drugs and differing definitions of therapeutic effect and endpoints,774,778–780 making summary conclusions difficult. Early studies involved patients with far longer hospital lengths of stay than occur presently and were performed well before present standard-of-care treatments and diagnostic tests were available.774,778–780 Newer trials using presently available antithrombotic drugs often were not limited to patients with HF but included those with other acute illnesses, severe respiratory diseases, or simply a broad spectrum of hospitalized medical patients.771–774,781 In most studies, patients were categorized as having HF by admitting diagnosis, clinical signs, or functional class, whereas only 1 study782 provided LVEF data on enrolled study patients. All included trials tried to exclude patients perceived to have an elevated risk of bleeding complications or with an elevated risk of toxicity from the specific agent tested (eg, enoxaparin in patients with compromised renal function). Patients with HF typically made up a minority of the study cohort, and significance of results were not always reported by the authors, making ACCF/AHA class I recommendations difficult to support using this guideline methodology. In some trials, concurrent aspirin was allowed but not controlled for as a confounding variable.772,783
For patients admitted specifically for decompensated HF and with adequate renal function (serum creatinine <2.0 mg/dL), randomized trials suggest that enoxaparin 40 mg subcutaneously once daily770,773,774,783 or unfractionated heparin 5000 units subcutaneously every 8 hours771 will reduce radiographically demonstrable venous thrombosis. Effects on mortality or clinically significant pulmonary embolism rates are unclear. Lower doses of enoxaparin do not appear superior to placebo,770,773 whereas continuing weight-based enoxaparin therapy up to 3 months after hospital discharge does not appear to provide additional benefit.782
A single prospective study failed to demonstrate certoparin to be noninferior to unfractionated heparin,783 whereas retrospective analysis of a prospective trial of dalteparin was underpowered to determine benefit in its HF cohort.776 Fondaparinux failed to show significant difference from placebo in an RCT that included a subgroup of 160 patients with HF.781
No adequate trials have evaluated anticoagulant benefit in patients with chronic but stable HF admitted to the hospital for other reasons. However, the MEDENOX (Medical Patients with Enoxaparin) trial suggested that the benefit of enoxaparin may extend to this population.770,773,774
A systematic review784 failed to demonstrate prophylactic efficacy of graded compression stockings in general medical patients, but significant cutaneous complications were associated with their use. No studies were performed exclusively on patients with HF. Two RCTs in patients with stroke found no efficacy of these devices.785,786
See Online Data Supplement 20 for additional data on anticoagulation.
8.8. Arginine Vasopressin Antagonists: Recommendation
In patients hospitalized with volume overload, including HF, who have persistent severe hyponatremia and are at risk for or having active cognitive symptoms despite water restriction and maximization of GDMT, vasopressin antagonists may be considered in the short term to improve serum sodium concentration in hypervolemic, hyponatremic states with either a V2 receptor selective or a nonselective vasopressin antagonist.787,788 (Level of Evidence: B)
Even mild hyponatremia may be associated with neurocognitive problems, including falls and attention deficits.789 Treatment of hypervolemic hyponatremia with a V2-selective vasopressin antagonist (tolvaptan) was associated with a significant improvement in the mental component of the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form General Health Survey.788 Hyponatremia may be treated with water restriction and maximization of GDMT that modulate angiotensin II, leading to improved renal perfusion and decreased thirst. Alternative causes of hyponatremia (eg, syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone, hypothyroidism, and hypoaldosteronism) should be assessed. Vasopressin antagonists improve serum sodium in hypervolemic, hyponatremic states787,788; however, longer-term therapy with a V2-selective vasopressin antagonist did not improve mortality in patients with HF.790,791 Currently, 2 vasopressin antagonists are available for clinical use: conivaptan and tolvaptan. It may be reasonable to use a nonselective vasopressin antagonist to treat hyponatremia in patients with HF with cognitive symptoms due to hyponatremia. However, the long-term safety and benefit of this approach remains unknown. A summary of the recommendations for the hospitalized patient appears in Table 28.
8.9. Inpatient and Transitions of Care: Recommendations
See Table 29 for a summary of recommendations from this section.
The use of performance improvement systems and/or evidence-based systems of care is recommended in the hospital and early postdischarge outpatient setting to identify appropriate HF patients for GDMT, provide clinicians with useful reminders to advance GDMT, and assess the clinical response.82,365,706,792–796 (Level of Evidence: B)
Throughout the hospitalization as appropriate, before hospital discharge, at the first postdischarge visit, and in subsequent follow-up visits, the following should be addressed.204,795,797–799 (Level of Evidence: B):
initiation of GDMT if not previously established and not contraindicated;
precipitant causes of HF, barriers to optimal care transitions, and limitations in postdischarge support;
assessment of volume status and supine/upright hypotension with adjustment of HF therapy as appropriate;
titration and optimization of chronic oral HF therapy;
assessment of renal function and electrolytes where appropriate;
assessment and management of comorbid conditions;
reinforcement of HF education, self-care, emergency plans, and need for adherence; and
consideration for palliative care or hospice care in selected patients.
Multidisciplinary HF disease-management programs are recommended for patients at high risk for hospital readmission, to facilitate the implementation of GDMT, to address different barriers to behavioral change, and to reduce the risk of subsequent rehospitalization for HF.82,800–802 (Level of Evidence: B)
Use of clinical risk-prediction tools and/or biomarkers to identify patients at higher risk for postdischarge clinical events are reasonable.215 (Level of Evidence: B)
Decisions about pharmacological therapies delivered during hospitalization likely can impact postdischarge outcome. Continuation or initiation of HF GDMT prior to hospital discharge is associated with substantially improved clinical outcomes for patients with HFrEF. However, caution should be used when initiating beta blockers in patients who have required inotropes during their hospital course or when initiating ACE inhibitors, ARBs, or aldosterone antagonists in those patients who have experienced marked azotemia or are at risk for hyperkalemia. The patient should be transitioned to oral diuretic therapy to verify its effectiveness. Similarly, optimal volume status should be achieved. Blood pressure should be adequately controlled, and, in patients with AF, ventricular response should also be well controlled. The hospitalization is a “teachable moment” to reinforce patient and family education and develop a plan of care, which should be communicated to the appropriate healthcare team.
Safety for patients hospitalized with HF is crucial. System changes necessary to achieve safer care include the adoption by all US hospitals of a standardized set of 30 “Safe Practices” endorsed by the National Quality Forum804 and National Patient Safety Goals espoused by The Joint Commission.805 Improved communication between clinicians and nurses, medication reconciliation, carefully planned transitions between care settings, and consistent documentation are examples of patient safety standards that should be ensured for patients with HF discharged from the hospital.
The prognosis of patients hospitalized with HF, and especially those with serial readmissions, is suboptimal. Hence, appropriate levels of symptomatic relief, support, and palliative care for patients with chronic HF should be addressed as an ongoing key component of the plan of care, especially when patients are hospitalized with acute decompensation.806 The appropriateness of discussion about advanced therapy or end-of-life preferences is reviewed in Section 11.
For patients with HF, the transition from inpatient to outpatient care can be an especially vulnerable period because of the progressive nature of the disease state, complex medical regimens, the large number of comorbid conditions, and the multiple clinicians who may be involved. Patient education and written discharge instructions or educational material given to the patient, family members, and/or caregiver during the hospital stay or at discharge to home are essential components of transition care. These should address all of the following: activity level, diet, discharge medications, follow-up appointment, weight monitoring, and what to do if symptoms worsen.297 Thorough discharge planning that includes special emphasis on ensuring adherence to an evidence-based medication regimen795 is associated with improved patient outcomes.792,797,807 More intensive delivery of discharge instructions, coupled tightly with subsequent well-coordinated follow-up care for patients hospitalized with HF, has produced positive results in several studies.82,793,800 The addition of a 1-hour, nurse educator–delivered teaching session at the time of hospital discharge, using standardized instructions, resulted in improved clinical outcomes, increased self-care and treatment adherence, and reduced cost of care. Patients receiving the education intervention also had a lower risk of rehospitalization or death and lower costs of care.365 There are ongoing efforts to further develop evidence-based interventions in this population.
Transitional care extends beyond patient education. Care information, especially changes in orders and new diagnostic information, must be transmitted in a timely and clearly understandable form to all of the patient’s clinicians who will be delivering follow-up care. Other important components of transitional care include preparation of the patient and caregiver for what to expect at the next site of care, reconciliation of medications, follow-up plans for outstanding tests, and discussions about monitoring signs and symptoms of worsening conditions. Early outpatient follow-up, a central element of transitional care, varies significantly across US hospitals. Early postdischarge follow-up may help minimize gaps in understanding of changes to the care plan or knowledge of test results and has been associated with a lower risk of subsequent rehospitalization.803 A follow-up visit within 7 to 14 days and/or a telephone follow-up within 3 days of hospital discharge are reasonable goals of care.
See Online Data Supplement 40 for additional data on oral medications for the hospitalized patient.
9. Important Comorbidities in HF
9.1. Atrial Fibrillation§
Patients with HF are more likely than the general population to develop AF.808 There is a direct relationship between the NYHA class and prevalence of AF in patients with HF progressing from 4% in those who are NYHA class I to 40% in those who are NYHA class IV.809 AF is also a strong independent risk factor for subsequent development of HF.376,808 In addition to those with HFrEF, patients with HFpEF are also at greater risk for AF than the general age-matched population.811 HF and AF can interact to promote their perpetuation and worsening through mechanisms such as rate-dependent worsening of cardiac function, fibrosis, and activation of neurohumoral vasoconstrictors. AF can worsen symptoms in patients with HF, and, conversely, worsened HF can promote a rapid ventricular response in AF.
Similar to other patient populations, for those with AF and HF, the main goals of therapy are prevention of thromboembolism and symptom control. Most patients with AF and HF would be expected to be candidates for systemic anticoagulation unless otherwise contraindicated. General principles of management include correction of underlying causes of AF and HF as well as optimization of HF management (Table 30). As in other patient populations, the issue of rate control versus rhythm control has been investigated. For patients who develop HF as a result of AF, a rhythm control strategy should be pursued. It is important to recognize that AF with a rapid ventricular response is one of the few potentially reversible causes of HF. Because of this, a patient who presents with newly detected HF in the presence of AF with a rapid ventricular response should be presumed to have a rate-related cardiomyopathy until proved otherwise. In this situation, 2 strategies can be considered. One is rate control of the patient’s AF and see if HF and EF improve. The other is to try to restore and maintain sinus rhythm. In this situation, it is common practice to initiate amiodarone and then arrange for cardioversion 1 month later. Amiodarone has the advantage of being both an effective rate-control medication and the most effective antiarrhythmic medication with a lower risk of proarrhythmic effect.
In patients with HF who develop AF, a rhythm-control strategy has not been shown to be superior to a rate-control strategy.812 If rhythm control is chosen, limited data suggest that AF catheter ablation in HF patients may lead to improvement in LV function and quality of life but is less likely to be effective than in patients with intact cardiac function.813,814 Because of their favorable effect on morbidity and mortality in patients with systolic HF, beta-adrenergic blockers are the preferred agents for achieving rate control unless otherwise contraindicated. Digoxin may be an effective adjunct to a beta blocker. The nondihydropyridine calcium antagonists, such as diltiazem, should be used with caution in those with depressed EF because of their negative inotropic effect. For those with HFpEF, nondihydropyridine calcium antagonists can be effective for achieving rate control but may be more effective when used in combination with digoxin. For those for whom a rate-control strategy is chosen, when rate control cannot be achieved either because of drug inefficacy or intolerance, atrioventricular node ablation and CRT device placement can be useful.78,116,595,596 See Figures 5 and 6 for AF treatment algorithms.
See Online Data Supplement 41 for additional data on AF.
Anemia is a common finding in patients with chronic HF. Although variably reported, in part due to the lack of consensus on the definition of anemia, the prevalence of anemia among patients with HF increases with HF severity. Anemia is also more common in women and is seen in both patients with HFrEF and HFpEF.818–823 The World Health Organization defines anemia as a hemoglobin level of <12 g/dL in women and <13 g/dL in men. Registries have reported anemia to be present in 25% to 40% of HF patients.818–820 Anemia is associated with an increased mortality risk in HF. In a large study of >150,000 patients, the mortality risk was approximately doubled in anemic HF patients compared with those without anemia, and this risk persisted after controlling for other confounders, including renal dysfunction and HF severity.818 Anemia is also associated with reduced exercise capacity, impaired HRQOL, and a higher risk for hospitalization.225,819,824,825 These risks are inversely and linearly associated with hemoglobin levels, although a U-shaped risk with the highest hemoglobin levels has been reported.822,826
Multiple etiological factors, many of which coexist within individual patients, contribute to the development of anemia in HF. Anemia in patients with HF is often normocytic and accompanied by an abnormally low reticulocyte count.825,827 Evaluation of anemia in HF requires careful consideration of other causes, the most common being secondary causes of iron deficiency anemia.
In persons without identifiable causes of anemia, erythropoiesis-stimulating agents have gained significant interest as potential adjunctive therapy in the patient with HF. In a retrospective study of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents in 26 patients with HF and anemia, the hemoglobin level, LVEF, and functional class improved.828 These patients required lower diuretic doses and were hospitalized less often. Similar findings were also observed in a randomized open-label study of 32 patients.829 A single-blind RCT showed that erythropoietin increased hemoglobin, peak oxygen uptake, and exercise duration in patients with severe HF and anemia.830 Two further studies confirmed these findings; however, none of these were double blind.831,832
These positive data led to 2 larger studies. A 165-patient study showed that darbepoetin alfa was associated with improvement in several HRQOL measures with a trend toward improved exercise capacity (6-minute walking distance +34±7 m versus +11±10 m, P=0.074).833 In STAMINA-HeFT (Study of Anemia in Heart Failure Trial), 319 patients were randomly assigned to darbepoetin alfa or placebo for 12 months.834 Although darbepoetin alfa did not improve exercise duration, it was well tolerated, and a trend toward improvement in the composite endpoint of all-cause mortality or first hospitalization for HF was seen (hazard ratio: 0.68; 95% confidence interval: 0.43 to 1.08; P=0.10).834 These favorable data led to the design and initiation of the RED-HF (Phase III Reduction of Events With Darbepoetin alfa in Heart Failure) trial.835
Two trials in erythropoiesis-stimulating agents, however, later raised concerns that patients treated with an erythropoiesis-stimulating agent may have an increased risk of cardiovascular events.836,837 Because the populations in these trials differed, the RED-HF trial was continued. Nevertheless, at the completion of the trial, the investigators concluded that treatment with darbepoetin alfa did not improve clinical outcomes in patients with systolic HF and mild-to-moderate anemia.838 Finally, a trial using intravenous iron as a supplement in patients with HFrEF with iron deficiency showed an improvement in functional status.840 There were no untoward adverse effects of iron in this trial. In the absence of a definitive evidence base, the writing committee has deferred a specific treatment recommendation regarding anemia.
Depression is common in patients with HF; those with depressive symptoms have lower HRQOL, poorer self-care, worse clinical outcomes, and more use of healthcare services.841–843 Although it might be assumed that depression occurs only among hospitalized patients,844 a multicenter study demonstrated that even at least 3 months after a hospitalization, 63% of patients with HF reported symptoms of depression.845 Potential pathophysiologic mechanisms proposed to explain the high prevalence of depression in HF include autonomic nervous system dysfunction, inflammation, cardiac arrhythmias, and altered platelet function, but the mechanism remains unclear.846 Although remission from depression may improve cardiovascular outcomes, the most effective intervention strategy is not yet known.842
9.4. Other Multiple Comorbidities
Although there are additional and important comorbidities that afflict patients with HF as shown in Table 31, how best to generate specific recommendations remains uncertain, given the status of current evidence.
10. Surgical/Percutaneous/Transcatheter Interventional Treatments of HF: Recommendations
See Table 32 for a summary of recommendations from this section.
CABG to improve survival is reasonable in patients with mild to moderate LV systolic dysfunction (EF 35% to 50%) and significant (≥70% diameter stenosis) multivessel CAD or proximal left anterior descending coronary artery stenosis when viable myocardium is present in the region of intended revascularization.848–850 (Level of Evidence: B)
Surgical aortic valve replacement is reasonable for patients with critical aortic stenosis and a predicted surgical mortality of no greater than 10%.852 (Level of Evidence: B)
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement after careful candidate consideration is reasonable for patients with critical aortic stenosis who are deemed inoperable.853 (Level of Evidence: B)
CABG may be considered with the intent of improving survival in patients with ischemic heart disease with severe LV systolic dysfunction (EF <35%) and operable coronary anatomy whether or not viable myocardium is present.307–309 (Level of Evidence: B)
Transcatheter mitral valve repair or mitral valve surgery for functional mitral insufficiency is of uncertain benefit and should only be considered after careful candidate selection and with a background of GDMT.854–857 (Level of Evidence: B)
Surgical reverse remodeling or LV aneurysmectomy may be considered in carefully selected patients with HFrEF for specific indications, including intractable HF and ventricular arrhythmias.858 (Level of Evidence: B)
Surgical therapies and percutaneous interventions that are commonly integrated, or at least considered, in HF management include coronary revascularization (eg, CABG, angioplasty, stenting); aortic valve replacement; mitral valve replacement or repair; septal myectomy or alcohol septal ablation for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; surgical ablation of ventricular arrhythmia; MCS; and cardiac transplantation.675,680,859,860 Surgical placement of ICDs or LV pacing leads is of historical importance but may be considered in situations where transvenous access is not feasible.
The most common reason for intervention is CAD. Myocardial viability indicates the likelihood of improved outcomes with either surgical or medical therapy but does not identify patients with greater survival benefit from revascularization.304 The dictum of CABG for left main CAD and reduced LV function was considered absolute and subsequently extrapolated to all severities of LV dysfunction without a confirmatory evidence base.848 Newer studies have addressed patients with multivessel CAD, HF, and at least moderately severe to severe LV systolic dysfunction.861,862 Both surgical and medical therapies have similar outcomes, and decisions about revascularization should be made jointly by the HF team and cardiothoracic surgeon. The most important considerations in the decision to proceed with a surgical or interventional approach include coronary anatomy that is amenable to revascularization and appropriate concomitant GDMT. Valvular heart disease is not an infrequent cause of HF; however, when valvular disease is managed correctly and pre-emptively, its adverse consequences on ventricular mechanics can be ameliorated. The advent of effective transcatheter approaches to both mitral and aortic disease creates the need for greater considerations of structural interventions for patients with LV systolic dysfunction and valvular heart disease. To date, the surgical or transcatheter management of functional mitral insufficiency has not been proven superior to medical therapy. A decision to intervene in functional mitral regurgitation should be made on a case-by-case basis, and consideration should be given to participation in clinical trials and/or databases. The surgical or transcatheter management of critical aortic stenosis is an effective strategy with reasonable outcomes noted even in patients with advanced age (>80 years). Indications for other surgical or percutaneous interventions in the setting of HF are driven by other relevant guidelines or other sections of this guideline, including myomectomy for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, surgical or electrophysiological procedures for AF, nondurable or durable MCS, and heart transplantation.
Several procedures under evaluation hold promise but are not yet appropriate for a guideline-driven indication (Table 33). This includes revascularization as a means to support cellular regenerative therapies. For patients willing to consider regenerative technologies, the ideal strategy is referral to an enrolling clinical trial at a center experienced in both high-risk revascularization and cell-based science.863–865 Surgical reverse-ventricular remodeling (ventricular reconstruction) does not appear to be of benefit but may be considered in carefully selected patients with HFrEF for specified indications, including retractable HF and ventricular arrhythmias.858
11. Coordinating Care for Patients With Chronic HF
11.1. Coordinating Care for Patients With Chronic HF: Recommendations
Effective systems of care coordination with special attention to care transitions should be deployed for every patient with chronic HF that facilitate and ensure effective care that is designed to achieve GDMT and prevent hospitalization.80,82,793,870–884 (Level of Evidence: B)
Every patient with HF should have a clear, detailed, and evidence-based plan of care that ensures the achievement of GDMT goals, effective management of comorbid conditions, timely follow-up with the healthcare team, appropriate dietary and physical activities, and compliance with secondary prevention guidelines for cardiovascular disease. This plan of care should be updated regularly and made readily available to all members of each patient’s healthcare team.13 (Level of Evidence: C)
Education, support, and involvement of patients with HF and their families are critical and often complex, especially during transitions of care. Failure to understand and follow a detailed and often nuanced plan of care likely contributes to the high rates of HF 30-day rehospitalization and mortality seen across the United States.61,889 One critical intervention to ensure effective care coordination and transition is the provision of a comprehensive plan of care, with easily understood, culturally sensitive, and evidence-based educational materials, to patients with HF and/or caregivers during both hospital and office-based encounters. A comprehensive plan of care should promote successful patient self-care.870,884,890 Hence, the plan of care for patients with HF should continuously address in detail a number of complex issues, including adherence to GDMT, timely follow-up with the healthcare professionals who manage the patient’s HF and associated comorbidities, appropriate dietary and physical activities, including cardiac rehabilitation, and adherence to an extensive list of secondary prevention recommendations based on established guidelines for cardiovascular disease (Table 34). Clinicians must maintain vigilance about psychosocial, behavioral, and socioeconomic issues that patients with HF and their caregivers face, including access to care, risk of depression, and healthcare disparities.639,891–895 For example, patients with HF who live in skilled nursing facilities are at higher risk for adverse events, with a 1-year mortality rate >50%.896 Furthermore, community-dwelling patients with HF are often unable to afford the large number of medications prescribed, thereby leading to suboptimal medication adherence.897
11.2. Systems of Care to Promote Care Coordination for Patients With Chronic HF
Improved communication between clinicians and nurses, medication reconciliation, carefully planned transitions between care settings, and consistent documentation are examples of patient safety standards that should be ensured for all patients with HF. The National Quality Forum has also endorsed a set of patient-centered “Preferred Practices for Care Coordination,”898 which detail comprehensive specifications for successful care coordination for patients and their families.
Systems of care designed to support patients with HF and other cardiac diseases can produce a significant improvement in outcomes. Furthermore, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is now financially penalizing hospitals for avoidable hospitalizations and readmissions, thereby emphasizing the importance of such systems-based care coordination of patients with HF.899 However, the quality of evidence is mixed for specific components of HF clinical management interventions, such as home-based care,871,872 disease management,873,874,880 and remote telemonitoring programs.80,875,876,878 Unfortunately, numerous and nonstandardized definitions of disease management,873,879,880 including the specific elements that compose disease management, impede efforts to improve the care of patients with HF. Hence, more generic multidisciplinary strategies for improving the quality and cost-effectiveness of systems-based HF care should be evaluated with equal weight to those interventions focused on improving adherence to GDMT. For example, multidisciplinary approaches can reduce rates of hospitalization for HF. Programs involving specialized follow-up by a multidisciplinary team decrease all-cause hospitalizations and mortality; however, this has not been shown for “disease management programs” that focus only on self-care activities.82,793,881,882,900 Furthermore, patient characteristics may be important predictors of HF and other cardiac disease–related survival and hospitalization. Overall, very few specific interventions have been consistently identified and successfully applied in clinical practice.204,214,901–903
See Online Data Supplements 42 and 43 for additional data on disease management and telemonitoring.
11.3. Palliative Care for Patients With HF
The core elements of comprehensive palliative care for HF delivered by clinicians include expert symptom assessment and management. Ongoing care should address symptom control, psychosocial distress, HRQOL, preferences about end-of-life care, caregiver support, and assurance of access to evidence-based disease-modifying interventions. The HF team can help patients and their families explore treatment options and prognosis. The HF and palliative care teams are best suited to help patients and families decide when end-of-life care (including hospice) is appropriate.30,885–888,904 Assessment for frailty and dementia is part of this decision care process offered to the patient and family.
Data suggest that advance directives specifying limitations in end-of-life care are associated with significantly lower levels of Medicare spending, lower likelihood of in-hospital death, and higher use of hospice care in regions characterized by higher levels of end-of-life spending.905 In newly diagnosed cancer patients, palliative care interventions delivered early have had a positive impact on survival and HRQOL. This approach may also be relevant for HF.906 Access to formally trained palliative care specialists may be limited in ambulatory settings. Therefore, cardiologists, primary care physicians, physician assistants, advanced practice nurses, and other members of the HF healthcare team should be familiar with these local treatment options. Evaluation for cardiac transplantation or MCS in experienced centers should include formal palliative care consultation, which can improve advanced care planning and enhance the overall quality of decision making and integrated care for these patients, regardless of the advanced HF therapy selected.907
12. Quality Metrics/Performance Measures: Recommendations
Participation in quality improvement programs and patient registries based on nationally endorsed, clinical practice guideline–based quality and performance measures can be beneficial in improving the quality of HF care.706,801 (Level of Evidence: B)
Quality measurement and accountability have become integral parts of medical practice over the past 2 decades. HF has been a specific target of quality measurement, improvement, and reporting because of its substantial impact on population morbidity and mortality. Commonly used performance measures for HF can be considered in 2 distinct categories: process measures and outcomes measures.
Process performance measures focus on the aspects of care that are delivered to a patient (eg, the prescription of a particular drug such as an ACE inhibitor in patients with LV systolic dysfunction and without contraindications). Process measures derive from the most definitive guideline recommendations (ie, class I and class III recommendations). A small group of process measures for hospitalized patients with HF have been reported to the public by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as part of the Hospital Compare program.918
Measures used to characterize the care of patients with HF should be those developed in a multiorganizational consensus process using an explicit methodology focusing on measurability, validity, reliability, feasibility, and ideally, correlation with patient outcomes,919,920 and with transparent disclosure and management of possible conflicts of interest. In the case of HF, several national outcome measures are currently in use (Table 35), and the ACCF/AHA/American Medical Association–Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement recently published revised performance measures document includes several process measures for both inpatient and outpatient HF care (Table 36).921 Of note, the ACCF/AHA distinguish between processes of care that can be considered “Performance Measures” (ie, suitable for use for accountability purposes) and “Quality Metrics” (ie, suitable for use for quality improvement but not accountability).922
Measures are appealing for several reasons; by definition, they reflect the strongest guideline recommendations. When appropriately specified, they are relatively easy to calculate and they provide a clear target for improvement. However, they do not capture the broader range of care; they apply only to those patients without contraindications to therapy. Evidence of the relation between better performance with respect to process measures and patient outcomes is conflicting, and performance rates for those measures that have been used as part of public reporting programs are generally high for all institutions, limiting the ability of these measures to identify high- and low-performing centers.
These limitations of process measures have generated interest in the use of outcomes measures as a complementary approach to characterize quality. With respect to HF, 30-day mortality and 30-day readmission are reported by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as part of the Hospital Compare program (Table 35) and are incorporated in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services value-based purchasing program.918 Outcomes measures are appealing because they apply universally to almost all patients, and they provide a perspective on the performance of health systems.923 On the other hand, they are limited by the questionable adequacy of risk adjustment and by the challenges of improvement. The ACCF and AHA have published criteria that characterize the necessary attributes of robust outcomes measures.924
See Online Data Supplement 44 for additional data on quality metrics and performance measures.
13. Evidence Gaps and Future Research Directions
Despite the objective evidence compiled by the writing committee on the basis of hundreds of clinical trials, there are huge gaps in our knowledge base about many fundamental aspects of HF care. Some key examples include an effective management strategy for patients with HFpEF beyond blood pressure control; a convincing method to use biomarkers in the optimization of medical therapy; the recognition and treatment of cardiorenal syndrome; and the critical need for improving patient adherence to therapeutic regimens. Even the widely embraced dictum of sodium restriction in HF is not well supported by current evidence. Moreover, the majority of the clinical trials that inform GDMT were designed around the primary endpoint of mortality, so that there is less certainty about the impact of therapies on the HRQOL of patients. It is also of major concern that the majority of RCTs failed to randomize a sufficient number of the elderly, women, and underrepresented minorities, thus, limiting insight into these important patient cohorts. A growing body of studies on patient-centered outcomes research is likely to address some of these deficiencies, but time will be required.
HF is a syndrome with a high prevalence of comorbidities and multiple chronic conditions, but most guidelines are developed for patients with a single disease. Nevertheless, the coexistence of additional diseases such as arthritis, renal insufficiency, diabetes mellitus, or chronic lung disease with the HF syndrome should logically require a modification of treatment, outcome assessment, or follow-up care. About 25% of Americans have multiple chronic conditions; this figure rises to 75% in those >65 years of age, including the diseases referred to above, as well as asthma, hypertension, cognitive disorders, or depression.847 Most RCTs in HF specifically excluded patients with significant other comorbidities from enrollment, thus limiting our ability to generalize our recommendations to many real-world patients. Therefore, the clinician must, as always, practice the art of using the best of the guideline recommendations as they apply to a specific patient.
Future research will need to focus on novel pharmacological therapies, especially for hospitalized HF; regenerative cell-based therapies to restore myocardium; and new device platforms that will either improve existing technologies (eg, CRT, ICD, left VAD) or introduce simpler, less morbid devices that are capable of changing the natural history of HF. What is critically needed is an evidence base that clearly identifies best processes of care, especially in the transition from hospital to home. Finally, preventing the burden of this disease through more successful risk modification, sophisticated screening, perhaps using specific omics technologies (ie, systems biology) or effective treatment interventions that reduce the progression from stage A to stage B is an urgent need.
Presidents and Staff
American College of Cardiology Foundation
John Gordon Harold, MD, MACC, President
Shalom Jacobovitz, Chief Executive Officer
William J. Oetgen, MD, MBA, FACC, Senior Vice President, Science and Quality
Charlene L. May, Senior Director, Science and Clinical Policy
American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association
Lisa Bradfield, CAE, Director, Science and Clinical Policy
Debjani Mukherjee, MPH, Associate Director, Evidence- Based Medicine
Ezaldeen Ramadhan III, Specialist, Science and Clinical Policy
Sarah Jackson, MPH, Specialist, Science and Clinical Policy
American Heart Association
Donna K. Arnett, PhD, MD, FAHA, President
Nancy Brown, Chief Executive Officer
Rose Marie Robertson, MD, FAHA, Chief Science Officer
Gayle R. Whitman, PhD, RN, FAHA, FAAN, Senior Vice President, Office of Science Operations
Judy Bezanson, DSN, RN, CNS-MS, FAHA, Science and Medicine Advisor
Jody Hundley, Production Manager, Scientific Publications, Office of Science Operations
WRITING COMMITTEE MEMBERS*
ACCF/AHA TASK FORCE MEMBERS
Jeffrey L. Anderson, MD, FACC, FAHA, Chair; Alice K. Jacobs, MD, FACC, FAHA, Immediate Past Chair‡‡; Jonathan L. Halperin, MD, FACC, FAHA, Chair-Elect; Nancy