Chronic heart failure (HF) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States, affecting >4 million people. The increasing prevalence of HF has placed an enormous burden on the US healthcare system. For many patients with cardiovascular disease, HF is the final common pathway. Treatment strategies for HF are aimed at preventing and delaying progression of the disease and ultimately improving survival. This article reviews recent clinical drug trials for HF, including angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II antagonists, vasodilators, β-adrenergic blockers, positive inotropic agents, calcium antagonists, and antiarrhythmics. The benefits and shortcomings of these agents and the study designs are discussed. For patients with left ventricular (LV) systolic dysfunction, ACE inhibitors are the only agents that consistently improved survival and decreased the rate of HF progression. It is likely that β-adrenergic blockers have the same effect. The syndrome of HF is complex with both peripheral and cardiac factors contributing to disease progression. The addition of a diuretic and/or digoxin is often needed to prevent worsening heart failure. Although an angiotensin II antagonist may also be beneficial in the treatment of HF, further studies are needed to clarify their precise role in the management of this condition. Calcium anatogonists, antiarrhythmics excluding amiodarone, and positive inotropes other than digoxin do not appear to prevent progression of HF nor improve survival. The most common cause of HF in the United States is related to coronary artery disease Reduction of cardiac risk factors, such as smoking cessation, lowering serum cholesterol with diet and a lipid lowering agent, and blood pressure control, is likely to prevent the development or progression of HF.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine