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ABSTRACT: Over the past decade, the conceptual understanding of heart failure has changed significantly. Several large clinical trials have demonstrated that pharmacologic interventions can dramatically reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with heart failure. These trials have extended the therapeutic paradigm for treating heart failure beyond the goal of limiting congestive symptoms of volume overload. This two-part article presents an evidence-based guideline to assist primary care physicians in evaluating and treating patients with heart failure. Part I describes the new paradigm of heart failure and offers guidance for diagnostic testing. Part II presents a treatment guideline.
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.
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: Heart failure caused by systolic dysfunction affects more than 5 million adults in the United States and is a common source of outpatient visits to primary care physicians. Mortality rates are high, yet a number of pharmacologic interventions may improve outcomes. Other interventions, including patient education, counseling, and regular self-monitoring, are critical, but are beyond the scope of this article. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and beta blockers reduce mortality and should be administered to all patients unless contraindicated. Diuretics are indicated for symptomatic patients as needed for volume overload. Aldosterone antagonists and direct-acting vasodilators, such as isosorbide dinitrate and hydralazine, may improve mortality in selected patients. Angiotensin receptor blockers can be used as an alternative therapy for patients intolerant of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and in some patients who are persistently symptomatic. Digoxin may improve symptoms and is helpful for persons with concomitant atrial fibrillation, but it does not reduce cardiovascular or all-cause mortality. Serum digoxin levels should not exceed 1.0 ng per mL (1.3 nmol per L), especially in women.
ABSTRACT: Stress test parameters indicating the presence and extent of coronary artery disease have traditionally included such variables as exercise duration, and the blood pressure and ST-segment responses to exercise. The three-minute systolic blood pressure ratio, another important indicator of significant coronary artery disease, is a useful and readily obtainable measure that can be applied in all patients who are undergoing stress testing for the evaluation of known or suspected ischemic heart disease. The ratio is calculated by dividing the systolic blood pressure three minutes into the recovery phase of a treadmill exercise test by the systolic blood pressure at peak exercise. A three-minute systolic blood pressure ratio greater than 0.90 is considered abnormal and has a diagnostic accuracy of approximately 75 percent for the detection of coronary artery disease (i.e., an accuracy comparable to that of ST-segment depression). Higher values for the ratio are associated with more extensive coronary artery disease, as well as an adverse prognosis after myocardial infarction. Thus, the three-minute systolic blood pressure ratio provides information that is complementary to the traditional exercise test parameters for identifying high-risk ischemic heart disease.
ABSTRACT: Both isolated systolic hypertension (>140 mm Hg/<90 mm Hg) and systolic/diastolic hypertension (>140 mm Hg/>90 mm Hg) are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease in the elderly. Specific antihypertensive drug therapy is available if lifestyle interventions fail to reduce blood pressure to a normal level. Diuretics and beta blockers both reduce the occurrence of adverse events related to cerebrovascular disease; however, diuretics are more effective in reducing events related to coronary heart disease. Treated patients are less likely to develop severe hypertension or congestive heart failure. In most instances, low-dose diuretic therapy should be used as initial antihypertensive therapy in the elderly. A long-acting dihydropyridine calcium channel blocker may be used as alternative therapy in elderly patients with isolated systolic hypertension. Trials are being conducted to evaluate the long-term effects of angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin-II receptor blockers in elderly patients with uncomplicated hypertension.
ABSTRACT: Hypertension in blacks is usually characterized by low renin, expanded volume and sensitivity to salt. Diuretics are the preferred initial therapy, but response to calcium channel antagonists is also good. The blood pressure response to monotherapy with beta blockers or angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors is blunted, but this effect is abolished with concomitant use of diuretics. The two major types of hypertension in older persons are isolated systolic hypertension and combined systolic and diastolic hypertension. Strong data support the treatment of combined hypertension in patients 60 to 79 years of age and isolated systolic hypertension in patients 60 to 96 years of age. Diuretics and long-acting dihydropyridine calcium channel antagonists are the recommended initial therapies for isolated systolic hypertension. More studies are necessary before recommendations can be made about the treatment of combined hypertension in patients 80 years of age and older.
Beta Blockers and Congestive Heart Failure - Editorials