Treatment of heart failure with normal ejection fraction: an inconvenient truth!

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2010 Feb 9;55(6):526-37. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2009.06.067.


Despite use of similar drugs, outcomes of recent heart failure (HF) trials were frequently neutral in heart failure with normal left ventricular ejection fraction (HFNEF) and positive in heart failure with reduced left ventricular ejection fraction (HFREF). The neutral outcomes of HFNEF trials were often attributed to deficient HFNEF patient recruitment with inclusion of many HFREF or noncardiac patients. Patient recruitment criteria of 21 HFNEF trials were therefore reviewed in reference to diagnostic guidelines for HFNEF. In the 4 published sets of guidelines, a definite diagnosis of HFNEF required the simultaneous and obligatory presence of signs and/or symptoms of HF and evidence of normal systolic left ventricular (LV) function and of diastolic LV dysfunction. In 3 of 4 sets of guidelines, normal systolic LV function comprised both a left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) >50% and an absence of LV dilation. Among the 21 HFNEF trials, LVEF cutoff values ranged from 35% to 50%, with only 8 trials adhering to an LVEF >50%. Furthermore, only 1 trial specified a normal LV end-diastolic dimension as an enrollment criterion and only 7 trials required evidence of diastolic LV dysfunction. Nonadherence to diagnostic guidelines induced excessive enrollment into HFNEF trials of HF patients with eccentric LV remodeling and ischemic heart disease compared with HF patients with concentric LV remodeling and arterial hypertension. Nonadherence to guidelines also led to underpowered HFNEF trials with a low incidence of outcome events such as death or HF hospitalizations. Future HFNEF trials should therefore adhere to diagnostic guidelines for HFNEF.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic*
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy*
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Stroke Volume
  • Treatment Outcome