Treatment of patients with heart failure and preserved ejection fraction

Curr Treat Options Cardiovasc Med. 2008 Dec;10(6):516-28. doi: 10.1007/s11936-008-0044-7.


Of the more than 5 million Americans who have heart failure (HF), 30% to 50% have HF with preserved ejection fraction (HF-PEF). HF-PEF commonly occurs in elderly patients, especially women, with comorbidities of hypertension, left ventricular hypertrophy, diabetes, myocardial ischemia, and obesity. HF-PEF is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Although two large multicenter randomized, placebo-controlled trials evaluating an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACEI) and an angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) in patients with HF-PEF did not demonstrate any statistically significant benefit in their primary end points, they did suggest that these agents may have a modest role in reducing HF hospitalizations. Although calcium channel blockers and beta-blockers may be of benefit in patients with HF-PEF, large clinical trial data are not available to support their routine use in all patients with HF-PEF. Subgroup analysis does not support the use of digoxin in patients with HF-PEF in sinus rhythm. Current therapeutic recommendations for HF-PEF are aimed at 1) management of HF symptoms with sodium and fluid restriction along with diuretics for volume overload and 2) treatment of concomitant comorbidities, especially hypertension, rate and possibly rhythm control of atrial fibrillation, and evaluation and treatment of myocardial ischemia and anemia. ACEIs, ARBs, calcium channel blockers, and beta-blockers are recommended for HF-PEF patients who have other established indications for their use. Results are awaited from ongoing clinical trials with another ARB, irbesartan, and an aldosterone blocker, spironolactone.