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Ultrafiltration versus intravenous diuretics for patients hospitalized for acute decompensated heart failure.

OBJECTIVES: This study was designed to compare the safety and efficacy of veno-venous ultrafiltration and standard intravenous diuretic therapy for hypervolemic heart failure (HF) patients.

BACKGROUND: Early ultrafiltration may be an alternative to intravenous diuretics in patients with decompensated HF and volume overload.

METHODS: Patients hospitalized for HF with > or =2 signs of hypervolemia were randomized to ultrafiltration or intravenous diuretics. Primary end points were weight loss and dyspnea assessment at 48 h after randomization. Secondary end points included net fluid loss at 48 h, functional capacity, HF rehospitalizations, and unscheduled visits in 90 days. Safety end points included changes in renal function, electrolytes, and blood pressure.

RESULTS: Two hundred patients (63 +/- 15 years, 69% men, 71% ejection fraction < or =40%) were randomized to ultrafiltration or intravenous diuretics. At 48 h, weight (5.0 +/- 3.1 kg vs. 3.1 +/- 3.5 kg; p = 0.001) and net fluid loss (4.6 vs. 3.3 l; p = 0.001) were greater in the ultrafiltration group. Dyspnea scores were similar. At 90 days, the ultrafiltration group had fewer patients rehospitalized for HF (16 of 89 [18%] vs. 28 of 87 [32%]; p = 0.037), HF rehospitalizations (0.22 +/- 0.54 vs. 0.46 +/- 0.76; p = 0.022), rehospitalization days (1.4 +/- 4.2 vs. 3.8 +/- 8.5; p = 0.022) per patient, and unscheduled visits (14 of 65 [21%] vs. 29 of 66 [44%]; p = 0.009). No serum creatinine differences occurred between groups. Nine deaths occurred in the ultrafiltration group and 11 in the diuretics group.

CONCLUSIONS: In decompensated HF, ultrafiltration safely produces greater weight and fluid loss than intravenous diuretics, reduces 90-day resource utilization for HF, and is an effective alternative therapy. (The UNLOAD trial;; NCT00124137).

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