CCS/CHFS Heart Failure Guidelines Update: Defining a New Pharmacologic Standard of Care for Heart Failure With Reduced Ejection Fraction

Can J Cardiol. 2021 Apr;37(4):531-546. doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2021.01.017.


In this update of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society heart failure (HF) guidelines, we provide comprehensive recommendations and practical tips for the pharmacologic management of patients with HF with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF). Since the 2017 comprehensive update of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society guidelines for the management of HF, substantial new evidence has emerged that has informed the care of these patients. In particular, we focus on the role of novel pharmacologic therapies for HFrEF including angiotensin receptor-neprilysin inhibitors, sinus node inhibitors, sodium glucose transport 2 inhibitors, and soluble guanylate cyclase stimulators in conjunction with other long established HFrEF therapies. Updated recommendations are also provided in the context of the clinical setting for which each of these agents might be prescribed; the potential value of each therapy is reviewed, where relevant, for chronic HF, new onset HF, and for HF hospitalization. We define a new standard of pharmacologic care for HFrEF that incorporates 4 key therapeutic drug classes as standard therapy for most patients: an angiotensin receptor-neprilysin inhibitor (as first-line therapy or after angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor/angiotensin receptor blocker titration); a β-blocker; a mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist; and a sodium glucose transport 2 inhibitor. Additionally, many patients with HFrEF will have clinical characteristics for which we recommended other key therapies to improve HF outcomes, including sinus node inhibitors, soluble guanylate cyclase stimulators, hydralazine/nitrates in combination, and/or digoxin. Finally, an approach to management that integrates prioritized pharmacologic with nonpharmacologic and invasive therapies after a diagnosis of HFrEF is highlighted.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy
  • Cardiovascular Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Defibrillators, Implantable
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy*
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Myocardial Infarction / drug therapy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Standard of Care
  • Stroke Volume*


  • Cardiovascular Agents