Sodium nitroprusside for advanced low-output heart failure

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2008 Jul 15;52(3):200-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2008.02.083.


Objectives: This study was designed to examine the safety and efficacy of sodium nitroprusside (SNP) for patients with acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF) and low-output states.

Background: Inotropic therapy has been predominantly used in the management of patients with ADHF presenting with low cardiac output.

Methods: We reviewed all consecutive patients with ADHF admitted between 2000 and 2005 with a cardiac index < or =2 l/min/m(2) for intensive medical therapy including vasoactive drugs. Administration of SNP was chosen by the attending clinician, nonrandomized, and titrated to a target mean arterial pressure of 65 to 70 mm Hg.

Results: Compared with control patients (n = 97), cases treated with SNP (n = 78) had significantly higher mean central venous pressure (15 vs. 13 mm Hg; p = 0.001), pulmonary capillary wedge pressure (29 vs. 24 mm Hg; p = 0.001), but similar demographics, medications, and renal function at baseline. Use of SNP was not associated with higher rates of inotropic support or worsening renal function during hospitalization. Patients treated with SNP achieved greater improvement in hemodynamic measurements during hospitalization, had higher rates of oral vasodilator prescription at discharge, and had lower rates of all-cause mortality (29% vs. 44%; odds ratio: 0.48; p = 0.005; 95% confidence interval: 0.29 to 0.80) without increase in rehospitalization rates (58% vs. 56%; p = NS).

Conclusions: In patients with advanced, low-output heart failure, vasodilator therapy used in conjunction with optimal current medical therapy during hospitalization might be associated with favorable long-term clinical outcomes irrespective of inotropic support or renal dysfunction and remains an excellent therapeutic choice in hospitalized ADHF patients.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cardiotonic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / blood
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy*
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitroprusside / administration & dosage
  • Nitroprusside / adverse effects
  • Nitroprusside / therapeutic use*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke Volume / drug effects*
  • Vasodilator Agents / administration & dosage
  • Vasodilator Agents / adverse effects
  • Vasodilator Agents / therapeutic use*


  • Biomarkers
  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Nitroprusside