Pathological sodium-water retention or edema/congestion is a primary cause of heart failure (HF) decompensation, clinical symptoms, hospitalization, reduced quality of life, and premature mortality. Sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors (SGLT-2i) based therapies reduce hospitalization due to HF, improve functional status, quality, and duration of life in patients with HF with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) independently of their glycemic status. The pathophysiologic mechanisms and molecular pathways responsible for the benefits of SGLT-2i in HFrEF remain inconclusive, but SGLT-2i may help HFrEF by normalizing salt-water homeostasis to prevent clinical edema/congestion. In HFrEF, edema and congestion are related to compromised cardiac function. Edema and congestion are further aggravated by renal and pulmonary abnormalities. Treatment of HFrEF patients with SGLT-2i enhances natriuresis/diuresis, improves cardiac function, and reduces natriuretic peptide plasma levels. In this review, we summarize current clinical research studies related to outcomes of SGLT-2i treatment in HFrEF with a specific focus on their contribution to relieving or preventing edema and congestion, slowing HF progression, and decreasing the rate of rehospitalization and cardiovascular mortality.
Keywords: HFrEF; congestion; dilated cardiomyopathy; edema; endothelial dysfunction; fluid management.