Thirty Years of Evidence on the Efficacy of Drug Treatments for Chronic Heart Failure With Reduced Ejection Fraction: A Network Meta-Analysis

Circ Heart Fail. 2017 Jan;10(1):e003529. doi: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.116.003529.


Background: Treatments that reduce mortality and morbidity in patients with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, including angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEI), angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB), β-blockers (BB), mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists (MRA), and angiotensin receptor-neprilysin inhibitors (ARNI), have not been studied in a head-to-head fashion. This network meta-analysis aimed to compare the efficacy of these drugs and their combinations regarding all-cause mortality in patients with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction.

Methods and results: A systematic literature review identified 57 randomized controlled trials published between 1987 and 2015, which were compared in terms of study and patient characteristics, baseline risk, outcome definitions, and the observed treatment effects. Despite differences identified in terms of study duration, New York Heart Association class, ejection fraction, and use of background digoxin, a network meta-analysis was considered feasible and all trials were analyzed simultaneously. The random-effects network meta-analysis suggested that the combination of ACEI+BB+MRA was associated with a 56% reduction in mortality versus placebo (hazard ratio 0.44, 95% credible interval 0.26-0.66); ARNI+BB+MRA was associated with the greatest reduction in all-cause mortality versus placebo (hazard ratio 0.37, 95% credible interval 0.19-0.65). A sensitivity analysis that did not account for background therapy suggested that ARNI monotherapy is more efficacious than ACEI or ARB monotherapy.

Conclusions: The network meta-analysis showed that treatment with ACEI, ARB, BB, MRA, and ARNI and their combinations were better than the treatment with placebo in reducing all-cause mortality, with the exception of ARB monotherapy and ARB plus ACEI. The combination of ARNI+BB+MRA resulted in the greatest mortality reduction.

Keywords: drug combinations; drug therapy; heart failure; mortality; network meta-analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy*
  • Heart Failure / mortality
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Network Meta-Analysis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Stroke Volume
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Left / drug therapy
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Left / physiopathology