Effect of a Strategy of Comprehensive Vasodilation vs Usual Care on Mortality and Heart Failure Rehospitalization Among Patients With Acute Heart Failure: The GALACTIC Randomized Clinical Trial

JAMA. 2019 Dec 17;322(23):2292-2302. doi: 10.1001/jama.2019.18598.


Importance: Short-term infusions of single vasodilators, usually given in a fixed dose, have not improved outcomes in patients with acute heart failure (AHF).

Objective: To evaluate the effect of a strategy that emphasized early intensive and sustained vasodilation using individualized up-titrated doses of established vasodilators in patients with AHF.

Design, setting, and participants: Randomized, open-label blinded-end-point trial enrolling 788 patients hospitalized for AHF with dyspnea, increased plasma concentrations of natriuretic peptides, systolic blood pressure of at least 100 mm Hg, and plan for treatment in a general ward in 10 tertiary and secondary hospitals in Switzerland, Bulgaria, Germany, Brazil, and Spain. Enrollment began in December 2007 and follow-up was completed in February 2019.

Interventions: Patients were randomized 1:1 to a strategy of early intensive and sustained vasodilation throughout the hospitalization (n = 386) or usual care (n = 402). Early intensive and sustained vasodilation was a comprehensive pragmatic approach of maximal and sustained vasodilation combining individualized doses of sublingual and transdermal nitrates, low-dose oral hydralazine for 48 hours, and rapid up-titration of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, or sacubitril-valsartan.

Main outcomes and measures: The primary end point was a composite of all-cause mortality or rehospitalization for AHF at 180 days.

Results: Among 788 patients randomized, 781 (99.1%; median age, 78 years; 36.9% women) completed the trial and were eligible for primary end point analysis. Follow-up at 180 days was completed for 779 patients (99.7%). The primary end point, a composite of all-cause mortality or rehospitalization for AHF at 180 days, occurred in 117 patients (30.6%) in the intervention group (including 55 deaths [14.4%]) and in 111 patients (27.8%) in the usual care group (including 61 deaths [15.3%]) (absolute difference for the primary end point, 2.8% [95% CI, -3.7% to 9.3%]; adjusted hazard ratio, 1.07 [95% CI, 0.83-1.39]; P = .59). The most common clinically significant adverse events with early intensive and sustained vasodilation vs usual care were hypokalemia (23% vs 25%), worsening renal function (21% vs 20%), headache (26% vs 10%), dizziness (15% vs 10%), and hypotension (8% vs 2%).

Conclusions and relevance: Among patients with AHF, a strategy of early intensive and sustained vasodilation, compared with usual care, did not significantly improve a composite outcome of all-cause mortality and AHF rehospitalization at 180 days.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00512759.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cause of Death
  • Comorbidity
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy*
  • Heart Failure / mortality
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data
  • Vasodilator Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Vasodilator Agents / adverse effects


  • Vasodilator Agents

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00512759