Despite major improvements in the treatment of virtually all cardiac disorders, heart failure (HF) is an exception, in that its prevalence is rising, and only small prolongations in survival are occurring. An increasing fraction, especially older women with diabetes, obesity, and atrial fibrillation exhibit HF with preserved systolic function. Several pathogenetic mechanisms appear to be operative in HF. These include increased hemodynamic overload, ischemia-related dysfunction, ventricular remodeling, excessive neurohumoral stimulation, abnormal myocyte calcium cycling, excessive or inadequate proliferation of the extracellular matrix, accelerated apoptosis, and genetic mutations. Biomarkers released as a consequence of myocardial stretch, imbalance between formation and breakdown of extracellular matrix, inflammation, and renal failure are useful in the identification of the pathogenetic mechanism and, when used in combination, may become helpful in estimating prognosis and selecting appropriate therapy. Promising new therapies that are now undergoing intensive investigation include an angiotensin receptor neprilysin inhibitor, a naturally-occurring vasodilator peptide, a myofilament sensitizer and several drugs that enhance Ca++ uptake by the sarcoplasmic reticulum. Cell therapy, using autologous bone marrow and cardiac progenitor cells, appears to be promising, as does gene therapy. Chronic left ventricular assistance with continuous flow pumps is being applied more frequently and successfully as destination therapy, as a bridge to transplantation, and even as a bridge to recovery and explantation. While many of these therapies will improve the care of patients with HF, significant reductions in prevalence will require vigorous, multifaceted, preventive approaches.
Keywords: biomarkers; calcium cycling; cardiovascular disease; heart failure; left ventricular assist device; review.
Copyright © 2013 American College of Cardiology Foundation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.