Purpose of review: Recent findings on the relationship between congestive heart failure and renal failure are summarized in this review.
Recent findings: Congestive heart failure is found in about one-quarter of cases of chronic kidney disease. The most common cause of congestive heart failure is ischemic heart disease. The prevalence of congestive heart failure increases greatly as the patient's renal function deteriorates, and, at end-stage renal disease, can reach 65-70%. There is mounting evidence that chronic kidney disease itself is a major contributor to severe cardiac damage and, conversely, that congestive heart failure is a major cause of progressive chronic kidney disease. Uncontrolled congestive heart failure is often associated with a rapid fall in renal function and adequate control of congestive heart failure can prevent this. The opposite is also true: treatment of chronic kidney disease can prevent congestive heart failure. There is new evidence showing the cardioprotective effect of carvedilol in patients on dialysis, and of simvastatin and eplerenone in patients with congestive heart failure. Use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs doubles the rate of hospitalization in patients with congestive heart failure. Anemia has been found in one-third to half the cases of congestive heart failure, and may be caused not only by chronic kidney disease but by the congestive heart failure itself. The anemia is associated with worsening cardiac and renal status and often with signs of malnutrition. Control of the anemia and aggressive use of the recommended medication for congestive heart failure may improve the cardiac function, patient function and exercise capacity, stabilize the renal function, reduce hospitalization and improve quality of life. Congestive heart failure, chronic kidney disease and anemia therefore appear to act together in a vicious circle in which each condition causes or exacerbates the other. Both congestive heart failure and anemia are often undertreated. Cooperation between nephrologists and other physicians in the treatment of patients with anemic congestive heart failure may improve the quality of care and the subsequent prognosis for both congestive heart failure and chronic kidney disease.
Summary: Adequate and early detection and aggressive treatment of congestive heart failure and chronic kidney disease and the associated anemia may markedly slow the progression of both diseases.