Acid-base balance in heart failure

J Nephrol. Mar-Apr 2006;19 Suppl 9:S115-20.


In end-stage heart failure, various acid-base disorders can be discovered due to the renal loss of hydrogen ions and hydrogen ion movements into cells, the reduction of the effective circulating volume, hypoxemia and renal failure. This justifies the occurrence of metabolic alkalosis, metabolic acidosis, respiratory alkalosis, as well as respiratory acidosis alone or in combination. Several studies have been published on the acid-base state in heart failure. In a 1951 study, Squires et al analyzed the distribution of body fluid in congestive heart failure by taking into consideration the abnormalities in serum electrolyte concentration and in acid-base equilibrium. A recent study by Milionis et al, analyzed 86 patients with congestive heart failure receiving conventional treatment; the majority of these patients exhibited hypokalemia, hyponatremia, hypocalcemia and hypophosphatemia. Disorders in acid-base balance were noted in 37.2% of patients. In a recent study, 70 patients with severe congestive heart failure before heart transplantation showed high-normal pH, slightly reduced pCO 2 and a slight loss of hydrogen ions. After heart transplantation, stability of blood pH and hydrogen ion concentrations was found. In contrast, bicarbonate and pCO 2 increased significantly. The data led us to formulate the diagnosis of a mixed acid-base disorder that includes respiratory alkalosis and metabolic alkalosis before heart transplantation. In heart failure, the presence of acid-base imbalance associated with the activation of mechanisms that lead to salt and water retention reveals evidence concerning the pivotal role of the kidney in determining the outcome of these patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acid-Base Equilibrium / physiology*
  • Acidosis / etiology
  • Acidosis / metabolism
  • Alkalosis / etiology
  • Alkalosis / metabolism
  • Heart Failure / complications
  • Heart Failure / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Risk Factors