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Key Clinical Updates in Heart Failure

Two large clinical trials of patients with type 2 diabetes have shown that inhibitors of SGLT2 substantially reduce the risk of cardiovascular death and hospitalization for heart failure for patients with reduced EF, with or without diabetes.

Dapagliflozin also reduced all-cause mortality and has been approved for treating heart failure with reduced EF. Empagliflozin is under FDA review.

While SGLT2 inhibitors also reduced renal disease progression, patients with severe renal impairment were not included in these trials.

In 2021, the FDA approved vericiguat to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death and heart failure hospitalization following hospitalization for heart failure in patients with chronic heart failure and EF < 45%.

The VICTORIA trial showed a modest but significant reduction in cardiovascular death and heart failure hospitalization with vericiguat, on top of other effective therapies, in this high-risk population.


  • LV failure: Either due to systolic or diastolic dysfunction. Predominant symptoms are those of low cardiac output and congestion, including dyspnea.

  • RV failure: Symptoms of fluid overload predominate; usually RV failure is secondary to LV failure.

  • Assessment of LV function is a crucial part of diagnosis and management.

  • Optimal management of chronic heart failure includes combination medical therapies, such as ACE inhibitors, aldosterone antagonists, and beta-blockers.


Heart failure is a common syndrome that is increasing in incidence and prevalence. Approximately 6.2 million patients in the United States have heart failure, with 8 million or more patients projected to have heart failure by 2030. Each year in the United States, 809,000 patients are discharged from the hospital with a diagnosis of heart failure. It is primarily a disease of aging, with over 75% of existing and new cases occurring in individuals over 65 years of age. Seventy-five percent of heart failure patients have antecedent hypertension. The prevalence of heart failure rises from less than 1% in individuals below 60 years to nearly 10% in those over 80 years of age.


Systolic function of the heart and resulting cardiac output is governed by four major determinants: the contractile state of the myocardium, the preload of the ventricle (the end-diastolic volume and the resultant fiber length of the ventricles prior to onset of the contraction), the afterload applied to the ventricles (the impedance to LV ejection), and the heart rate.

Cardiac function may be inadequate as a result of alterations in any of these determinants. The primary derangement is often depression of myocardial contractility caused either by loss of functional muscle (due to MI, etc) or by processes diffusely affecting the myocardium. However, the heart may fail as a pump because preload is excessively elevated, such as in valvular regurgitation, or when afterload is excessive, such as in aortic stenosis or in severe hypertension. Pump function may also be inadequate when the heart rate is too slow ...

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