Background: There is little information about how to adjust pharmacologic agents in the treatment of patients with advanced congestive heart failure (CHF). Some studies have suggested that use of pulmonary artery catheterization to guide reductions in filling pressures may improve outcomes for patients with heart failure who are hospitalized with evidence of elevated filling pressures. However, there is no consensus regarding the true utility of this strategy. A randomized clinical trial is needed to test the safety, efficacy, and treatment benefit of pulmonary artery catheterization in patients with advanced CHF.
Study design: The Evaluation Study of Congestive Heart Failure and Pulmonary Artery Catheterization Effectiveness (ESCAPE) trial is a multicenter, randomized trial designed to test the long-term safety and efficacy of treatment guided by hemodynamic monitoring and clinical assessment versus that guided by clinical assessment alone in patients hospitalized with New York Heart Association class IV CHF. Five hundred patients will be randomly assigned to receive either medical therapy guided by a combination of clinical assessment and hemodynamic monitoring (PAC arm) or medical therapy guided by clinical assessment alone (CLIN arm). The primary end point of ESCAPE will be the number of days that patients are hospitalized or die during the 6-month period after randomization. Secondary end points will include changes in mitral regurgitation, peak oxygen consumption, and natriuretic peptide levels. Other secondary end points will be pulmonary artery catheter-associated complications, resource utilization, quality of life measures, and patient preferences regarding survival.
Implications: The primary goal of ESCAPE will be to provide information about the utility of the pulmonary artery catheter in patients with advanced heart failure, independent of various treatment approaches used by individual physicians. In addition, this study will define current outcomes for this severely compromised population.