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ABSTRACT: Several large clinical trials conducted over the past decade have shown that pharmacologic interventions can dramatically reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with heart failure. These trials have modified and enhanced the therapeutic paradigm for heart failure and extended treatment goals beyond limiting congestive symptoms of volume overload. Part II of this two-part article presents treatment recommendations for patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction. The authors recommend that, if tolerated and not contraindicated, the following agents be used in patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction: an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor in all patients; a beta blocker in all patients except those who have symptoms at rest; and spironolactone in patients who have symptoms at rest or who have had such symptoms within the past six months. Diuretics and digoxin should be reserved, as needed, for symptomatic management of heart failure. Other treatments or treatment programs may be necessary in individual patients.
ABSTRACT: Hospital admission for congestive heart failure is extremely common and quite expensive, although it is frequently preventable. New drugs and therapies have been reported to reduce admissions, decrease morbidity and mortality, and improve the quality of life for these patients. Patients with an ejection fraction less than 40 percent (decreased systolic function) should be treated with medication to improve symptoms and prevent progression of heart failure. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are a mainstay of treatment in patients who can tolerate them; in patients who cannot take these drugs, angiotensin II receptor blocking agents offer an alternative. Patients with New York Heart Association class II or III heart failure should also receive a beta blocker (metoprolol, carvedilol or bisoprolol). Recent research has shown that treatment with spironolactone improves mortality and hospital readmission rates. An exercise program should also be recommended for all patients with heart failure unless their condition is unstable.
ABSTRACT: Atrial fibrillation is the arrhythmia most commonly encountered in family practice. Serious complications can include congestive heart failure, myocardial infarction, and thromboembolism. Initial treatment is directed at controlling the ventricular rate, most often with a calcium channel blocker, a beta blocker, or digoxin. Medical or electrical cardioversion to restore sinus rhythm is the next step in patients who remain in atrial fibrillation. Heparin should be administered to hospitalized patients undergoing medical or electrical cardioversion. Anticoagulation with warfarin should be used for three weeks before elective cardioversion and continued for four weeks after cardioversion. The recommendations provided in this two-part article are consistent with guidelines published by the American Heart Association and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Open-Angle Glaucoma - Article
ABSTRACT: Glaucoma is the second most common cause of legal blindness in the United States. Open-angle glaucoma is an asymptomatic, progressive optic neuropathy characterized by enlarging optic disc cupping and visual field loss. Patients at increased risk for open-angle glaucoma include blacks older than 40 years, whites older than 65 years, and persons with a family history of glaucoma or a personal history of diabetes or severe myopia. Elevated intraocular pressure is a strong, modifiable risk factor for open-angle glaucoma, but it is not diagnostic. Some patients with glaucoma have normal intraocular pressure (i.e., normal-pressure glaucoma), and many patients with elevated intraocular pressure do not have glaucoma (i.e., glaucoma suspects). Routine measurement of intraocular pressure by primary care physicians to screen patients for glaucoma is not recommended. Open-angle glaucoma usually is discovered during an adult eye evaluation performed for other indications. Final diagnosis and treatment occur in collaboration with ophthalmologists and optometrists. Formal visual field testing (perimetry) is a mainstay of glaucoma diagnosis and management. Eye drops, commonly nonspecific beta-blocker or prostaglandin analog drops, generally are the first-line treatment to reduce intraocular pressure. Laser treatment and surgery usually are reserved for patients in whom medical treatment has failed. Without treatment, open-angle glaucoma can end in irreversible vision loss.
ABSTRACT: Hypertension and diabetes mellitus are common diseases in the United States. Patients with diabetes have a much higher rate of hypertension than would be expected in the general population. Regardless of the antihypertensive agent used, a reduction in blood pressure helps to prevent diabetic complications. Barring contraindications, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors are considered first-line therapy in patients with diabetes and hypertension because of their well-established renal protective effects. Calcium channel blockers, low-dose diuretics, beta blockers, and alpha blockers have also been studied in this group. Most diabetic patients with hypertension require combination therapy to achieve optimal blood pressure goals.
Preoperative Cardiac Risk Assessment - Article
ABSTRACT: Heart disease is the leading cause of mortality in the United States. An important subset of heart disease is perioperative myocardial infarction, which affects approximately 50,000 persons each year. The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA) have coauthored a guideline on preoperative cardiac risk assessment, as has the American College of Physicians (ACP). The ACC/AHA guideline uses major, intermediate, and minor clinical predictors to stratify patients into different cardiac risk categories. Patients with poor functional status or those undergoing high-risk surgery require further risk stratification via cardiac stress testing. The ACP guideline also starts by screening patients for clinical variables that predict perioperative cardiac complications. However, the ACP did not feel there was enough evidence to support poor functional status as a significant predictor of increased risk. High-risk patients would sometimes merit preoperative cardiac catheterization by the ACC/AHA guideline, while the ACP version would reserve catheterization only for those who were candidates for cardiac revascularization independent of their noncardiac surgery. A recent development in prophylaxis of surgery-related cardiac complications is the use of beta blockers perioperatively for patients with cardiac risk factors.
ABSTRACT: Diastolic heart failure, a major cause of morbidity and mortality, is defined as symptoms of heart failure in a patient with preserved left ventricular function. It is characterized by a stiff left ventricle with decreased compliance and impaired relaxation, which leads to increased end diastolic pressure. Signs and symptoms are similar to those of heart failure with systolic dysfunction. The diagnosis of diastolic heart failure is best made with Doppler echocardiography. Based on current knowledge, pharmacologic treatment of diastolic heart failure should focus on normalizing blood pressure, promoting regression of left ventricular hypertrophy, avoiding tachycardia, treating symptoms of congestion, and maintaining normal atrial contraction when possible. Diuretic therapy is the mainstay of treatment for preventing pulmonary congestion, while beta blockers appear to be useful in preventing tachycardia and thereby prolonging left ventricular diastolic filling time. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers may be beneficial in patients with diastolic dysfunction, especially those with hypertension. Evidence from adequately powered randomized controlled trials, however, is not available yet. The outcomes of ongoing clinical trials may provide much-needed information to move from intuitive treatment to therapy based on evidence that matters: decreased morbidity and mortality and improved quality of life.
ABSTRACT: Optimal outpatient treatment of systolic heart failure has three goals that should be pursued simultaneously: (1) control of risk factors for the development and progression of heart failure, (2) treatment of heart failure, and (3) education of patients. Control of risk factors includes treating hypertension, diabetes, and coronary artery disease, and eliminating the use of alcohol and tobacco. All patients with heart failure should be taking an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor or angiotensin-receptor blocker. In the absence of contraindications, an ACE inhibitor is preferred. In most patients, physicians should consider adding a beta blocker to ACE-inhibitor therapy. In patients with severe heart failure, spironolactone is a useful addition to baseline drug therapy, as is carvedilol (substitute carvedilol if patient is already taking a beta blocker). Patients with stable heart failure should be encouraged to begin and maintain a regular aerobic exercise program. Digoxin therapy may reduce the likelihood of hospitalization but does not reduce mortality. It must be monitored closely, with a target dosage level of 0.5 to 1.1 ng per mL. Symptoms may be controlled with the use of diuretics and restricted dietary sodium. Finally, patient education, with the patient's active participation in the care, is a key strategy in the management of heart failure. Periodic follow-up between scheduled office visits, which is essential in the long-term management of heart failure, may include telephone calls from the office nurse, maintenance of a daily symptom and weight diary, and participation in a disease-management program.
ABSTRACT: Antihypertensive therapy has been shown to reduce morbidity and mortality in older patients with elevated systolic or diastolic blood pressures. This benefit appears to persist in patients older than 80 years, but less than one third of older patients have adequate blood pressure control. Systolic blood pressure is the most important predictor of cardiovascular disease. Blood pressure measurement in older persons should include an evaluation for orthostatic hypotension. Low-dose thiazide diuretics remain first-line therapy for older patients. Beta blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin-receptor blockers, and calcium channel blockers are second-line medications that should be selected based on comorbidities and risk factors.
Medications for Migraine Prophylaxis - Article
ABSTRACT: Sufficient evidence and consensus exist to recommend propranolol, timolol, amitriptyline, divalproex, sodium valproate, and topiramate as first-line agents for migraine prevention. There is fair evidence of effectiveness with gabapentin and naproxen sodium. Botulinum toxin also has demonstrated fair effectiveness, but further studies are needed to define its role in migraine prevention. Limited evidence is available to support the use of candesartan, lisinopril, atenolol, metoprolol, nadolol, fluoxetine, magnesium, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), coenzyme Q10, and hormone therapy in migraine prevention. Data and expert opinion are mixed regarding some agents, such as verapamil and feverfew; these can be considered in migraine prevention when other medications cannot be used. Evidence supports the use of timed-release dihydroergotamine mesylate, but patients should be monitored closely for adverse effects.