Prognosis of congestive heart failure in patients with normal versus reduced ejection fractions: results from a cohort of 2,258 hospitalized patients

Padmini Varadarajan, Ramdas G Pai
Journal of Cardiac Failure 2003, 9 (2): 107-12

BACKGROUND: Patients with congestive heart failure have an annual mortality of 10% to 20% depending on disease severity. Though one third of these patients have normal left ventricular (LV) ejection fraction (EF), their natural history is poorly defined. Small population-based studies have suggested a more benign prognosis for patients with preserved LVEF. However, prognosis in hospitalized patients, who form a higher risk group, is not known.

METHODS: We investigated the survival patterns of 2,258 patients with a primary hospital discharge diagnosis of congestive heart failure between 1990 and 1999. Survival was analyzed and patients with normal and reduced LVEF were compared.

RESULTS: Their age was 71 +/- 11 years, and 97% were men. There were 1,535 deaths over a mean follow up of 786 days. Of these, 963 (43%) patients had a normal LVEF (>/=55%). Patients with normal LVEF were of the same age as those with reduced LVEF, but had a lower prevalence of atrial fibrillation (20 versus 26%, P =.03), left bundle branch block (2 versus 12%, P <.0001), significant mitral regurgitation (5 versus 31%, P <.0001) and electrocardiographic evidence of myocardial infarction (38 versus 60%, P <.0001). Despite lesser comorbidities, they had a higher mortality hazard, with a 5-year survival of 22% compared with 28% for those with systolic heart failure (P =.007). Proportional hazards model showed presence of normal EF as a categoric variable to be an independent predictor of mortality in those with heart failure after correcting for age and rhythm.

CONCLUSIONS: Prognosis of hospitalized patients with congestive heart failure and normal LVEF is worse than those with reduced EF despite lesser comorbidities. Studies addressing optimal management of these patients are warranted.

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