Chronic kidney disease (CKD) as identified by a reduced estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) is a common comorbidity in patients with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF). The presence of CKD is associated with more severe heart failure, and CKD itself is a strong independent risk factor of poor cardiovascular outcome. Furthermore, the presence of CKD often influences the decision to start, uptitrate, or discontinue possible life-saving HFrEF therapies. Because pivotal HFrEF randomized clinical trials have historically excluded patients with stage 4 and 5 CKD (eGFR <30 mL/min/1.73 m2), information on the efficacy and tolerability of HFrEF therapies in these patients is limited. However, more recent HFrEF trials with novel classes of drugs included patients with more severe CKD. In this review on medical therapy in patients with HFrEF and CKD, we show that for both all-cause mortality and the combined end point of cardiovascular death or heart failure hospitalization, most drug classes are safe and effective up to CKD stage 3B (eGFR minimum 30 mL/min/1.73 m2). For more severe CKD (stage 4), there is evidence of safety and efficacy of sodium glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitors, and to a lesser extent, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, vericiguat, digoxin and omecamtiv mecarbil, although this evidence is restricted to improvement of cardiovascular death/heart failure hospitalization. Data are lacking on the safety and efficacy for any HFrEF therapies in CKD stage 5 (eGFR < 15 mL/min/1.73 m2 or dialysis) for either end point. Last, although an initial decline in eGFR is observed on initiation of several HFrEF drug classes (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors/angiotensin II receptor blockers/mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists/angiotensin receptor blocker neprilysin inhibitors/sodium glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitors), renal function often stabilizes over time, and the drugs maintain their clinical efficacy. A decline in eGFR in the context of a stable or improving clinical condition should therefore not be cause for concern and should not lead to discontinuation of life-saving HFrEF therapies.
Keywords: chronic kidney disease; evidence-based treatment; heart failure with reduced ejection fraction.