Effect of systemic corticosteroid therapy for acute heart failure patients with elevated C-reactive protein

ESC Heart Fail. 2022 Aug;9(4):2225-2232. doi: 10.1002/ehf2.13926. Epub 2022 Apr 8.


Aims: The current study explores whether degree of inflammation, reflected by C-reactive protein (CRP) level, modifies the effect of intravenous (IV) corticosteroid administered in the emergency department (ED) on clinical outcomes in patients with acute heart failure (AHF).

Methods and results: We selected patients diagnosed with AHF in the ED, with confirmed N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide > 300 pg/mL and CRP > 5 mg/L in the ED from the Epidemiology of Acute Heart Failure in the Emergency Departments (EAHFE) registry. In these 1109 patients, 121 were treated by corticosteroid. The corticosteroid therapy hazard ratio (HR) for 30 day all-cause mortality was 1.26 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.75-2.09, P = 0.38]. Although not statistically significant, HRs tended to decrease with increasing CRP level, with point estimates favouring corticosteroid at CRP levels above 20. In patients with CRP > 40 mg/L, with adjusted HRs of 0.56 (95% CI 0.20-1.55, P = 0.27) for 30 day all-cause mortality, 0.92 (95% CI 0.52-1.62, P = 0.78) for 30 day post-discharge ED revisit, hospitalization, or death, and adjusted odds ratio of 0.61 (95% CI 0.17-2.14, P = 0.44) for in-hospital all-cause mortality.

Conclusions: The present analysis suggests that corticosteroids might have the potential to improve outcomes in AHF patients with inflammatory activation. Larger, prospective studies of anti-inflammatory therapy should be considered to assess potential benefit in patients with the highest degree of inflammation.

Keywords: Acute heart failure; Corticosteroids; Emergency department; Inflammation; Mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Aftercare
  • C-Reactive Protein*
  • Heart Failure* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Patient Discharge
  • Prospective Studies


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • C-Reactive Protein