Heart Failure: Part 2, Update on Therapeutic Options
August 01, 2007
ABSTRACT: Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and ß-blockers are the cornerstone of heart failure medical therapy; unless contraindicated, start these agents as soon as possible after volume status has been optimized. Aldosterone receptor antagonists, angiotensin-receptor blockers, and a fixed-dose combination of hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate (the last recommended especially for African Americans) can be used as add-on therapy. Prophylactic implantable cardioverter defibrillators reduce long-term mortality in symptomatic patients with a left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) of 35% or less. Cardiac resynchronization therapy improves symptoms and ventricular remodeling in some patients; indications include wide (more than 20 milliseconds) QRS complex on ECG, impaired LVEF (35% or less), and advanced heart failure symptoms (NYHA classes III and IV) despite optimal drug therapy. Measurement of natriuretic peptides and impedance cardiography both show promise for monitoring patients with heart failure and for guiding therapy, but definitive data to justify their routine use are still lacking.