Purpose: Because the bioavailability of oral furosemide is erratic and often incomplete, we tested the hypothesis that patients with heart failure who were treated with torsemide, a predictably absorbed diuretic, would have more favorable clinical outcomes than would those treated with furosemide.
Patients and methods: We conducted an open-label trial of 234 patients with chronic heart failure (mean [+/- SD] age, 64 +/- 11 years) from an urban public health care system. Patients received oral torsemide (n = 113) or furosemide (n = 121) for 1 year. The primary endpoint was readmission to the hospital for heart failure. Secondary endpoints included readmission for all cardiovascular causes and for all causes, numbers of hospital days, and health-related quality of life.
Results: Compared with furosemide-treated patients, torsemide-treated patients were less likely to need readmission for heart failure (39 [32%] vs. 19 [17%], P <0.01) or for all cardiovascular causes (71 [59%] vs. 50 [44%], P = 0.03). There was no difference in the rate of admissions for all causes (92 [76%] vs. 80 [71%], P = 0.36). Patients treated with torsemide had significantly fewer hospital days for heart failure (106 vs. 296 days, P = 0.02). Improvements in dyspnea and fatigue scores from baseline were greater among patients treated with torsemide, but the differences were statistically significant only for fatigue scores at months 2, 8, and 12.
Conclusions: Compared with furosemide-treated patients, torsemide-treated patients were less likely to be readmitted for heart failure and for all cardiovascular causes, and were less fatigued. If our results are confirmed by blinded trials, torsemide may be the preferred loop diuretic for patients with chronic heart failure.