Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether a surrogate for renal neurohormonal activation, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), could identify patients destined to experience adverse outcomes associated with the use of high-dose loop diuretics (HDLD).
Background: Loop diuretics are commonly used to control congestive symptoms in heart failure; however, these agents cause neurohormonal activation and have been associated with worsened survival.
Methods: Subjects in the BEST (Beta-Blocker Evaluation of Survival Trial) receiving loop diuretics at baseline were analyzed (N = 2,456). The primary outcome was the interaction between BUN- and HDLD-associated mortality.
Results: In the overall cohort, HDLD use (≥160 mg/day) was associated with increased mortality (hazard ratio [HR]: 1.56; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.35 to 1.80). However, after extensively controlling for baseline characteristics, this association did not persist (HR: 1.06; 95% CI: 0.89 to 1.25). In subjects with BUN levels above the median (21.0 mg/dl), both the unadjusted (HR: 1.59; 95% CI: 1.34 to 1.88) and adjusted (HR: 1.29; 95% CI: 1.07 to 1.60) risk of death was higher in the HDLD group. In patients with BUN levels below the median, there was no associated risk with HDLD (HR: 0.99; 95% CI: 0.75 to 1.34) and after controlling for baseline characteristics, the HDLD group had significantly improved survival (HR: 0.71; 95% CI: 0.49 to 0.96) (p interaction = 0.018).
Conclusions: The risk associated with HDLD use is strongly dependent on BUN concentrations with reduced survival in patients with an elevated BUN level and improved survival in patients with a normal BUN level. These data suggest a role for neurohormonal activation in loop diuretic-associated mortality.
Copyright © 2011 American College of Cardiology Foundation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.