Noninferiority of heart failure nurse titration versus heart failure cardiologist titration. ETIFIC multicenter randomized trial

Rev Esp Cardiol (Engl Ed). 2021 Jun;74(6):533-543. doi: 10.1016/j.rec.2020.04.016. Epub 2020 Jun 24.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Introduction and objectives: Beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors), angiotensin-II-receptor-blockers (ARB), and mineralocorticoid-receptor antagonists decrease mortality and heart failure (HF) hospitalizations in HF patients with reduced left ventricular ejection fraction. The effect is dose-dependent. Careful titration is recommended. However, suboptimal doses are common in clinical practice. This study aimed to compare the safety and efficacy of dose titration of the aforementioned drugs by HF nurses vs HF cardiologists.

Methods: ETIFIC was a multicenter (n=20) noninferiority randomized controlled open label trial. A total of 320 hospitalized patients with new-onset HF, reduced ejection fraction and New York Heart Association II-III, without beta-blocker contraindications were randomized 1:1 in blocks of 4 patients each stratified by hospital: 164 to HF nurse titration vs 156 to HF cardiologist titration (144 vs 145 analyzed). The primary endpoint was the beta-blocker mean relative dose (% of target dose) achieved at 4 months. Secondary endpoints included ACE inhibitors, ARB, and mineralocorticoid-receptor antagonists mean relative doses, associated variables, adverse events, and clinical outcomes at 6 months.

Results: The mean±standard deviation relative doses achieved by HF nurses vs HF cardiologists were as follows: beta-blockers 71.09%±31.49% vs 56.29%±31.32%, with a difference of 14.8% (95%CI, 7.5-22.1), P <.001; ACE inhibitors 72.61%±29.80% vs 56.13%±30.37%, P <.001; ARB 44.48%±33.47% vs 43.51%±33.69%, P=.93; and mineralocorticoid-receptor antagonists 71%±32.12% vs 70.47%±29.78%, P=.86; mean±standard deviation visits were 6.41±2.82 vs 2.81±1.58, P <.001, while the number (%) of adverse events were 34 (23.6) vs 30 (20.7), P=.55; and at 6 months HF hospitalizations were 1 (0.69) vs 9 (5.51), P=.01.

Conclusions: ETIFIC is the first multicenter randomized trial to demonstrate the noninferiority of HF specialist-nurse titration vs HF cardiologist titration. Moreover, HF nurses achieved higher beta-blocker/ACE inhibitors doses, with more outpatient visits and fewer HF hospitalizations. Trial registry number: NCT02546856.

Keywords: Enfermera; Heart failure; Insuficiencia cardiaca; Nurse; Titulación; Up-titration.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Cardiologists*
  • Heart Failure* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Stroke Volume
  • Ventricular Function, Left


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors

Associated data