Objectives: To evaluate the epidemiology, prognosis, and patterns of practice in patients with chronic congestive heart failure (CHF) treated and followed at a specialized clinic.
Methods: Prospective cohort study of consecutive patients referred to and followed up in a specialized heart failure clinic between September 1989 and March 1996.
Results: Of the 628 patients referred, 566 were confirmed to have CHF. Mean duration of follow-up was 518 +/- 490 days (range 1 to 2192 days). Vital status was available for 99.3% of patients. Mean age at enrollment was 66 years, 68% were men, 67% had an ischemic cause of heart disease, and 78% had systolic dysfunction. Patients with preserved systolic function were older, more often female, had higher mean systolic blood pressures, and a lower prevalence of ischemic heart disease, ventricular arrhythmias, or impaired renal function when compared with those with systolic dysfunction (all P </=.001). Although there was a significant negative trend in survival with decreasing ejection fraction (P =. 03), the survival experience of those with CHF and preserved systolic function did not significantly differ from those with systolic failure (P =.25). Multiple logistic regression analysis showed increased mortality risk was associated with increasing age, New York Heart Association class IV, ischemic cause of disease, elevated serum creatinine level, use of diuretics, and systolic dysfunction, whereas use of beta-blockers was associated with reduced risk.
Conclusions: Our data suggest that a specialized outpatient clinic can improve practice patterns in patients with CHF. The high mortality risk in CHF with preserved systolic function suggests the need to find efficacious (and effective) therapies for this condition.