The management of acute heart failure

O Milo-Cotter, L Bettari, L Kleijn, S Bugatti, C Lombardi, M Rund, M Metra, A A Voors, G Cotter, E Kaluski, B D Weatherley
Panminerva Medica 2010, 52 (1): 53-66
Hospitalization for acute heart failure (AHF) is one of the burdensome aspects of 21st century medicine, leading to significant debilitating symptoms, high morbidity and mortality and consuming significant portion of the health care budget. Management of AHF is thought-provoking given the heterogeneity of the patient population, absence of a universally accepted definition, incomplete understanding of the pathophysiology and the beneficial and adverse effects of currently used therapies and lack of robust evidence-based guidelines. The article will discuss the clinical approach to the patients admitted with AHF, reviewing types of intervention (both approved and investigational) and will delineate their role and timing in specific AHF presentations. One of the challenges of AHF management is to effectively treat the subsets of patients with slow improvement or those with refractory AHF or early recurrence (worsening HF) during their initial admission. Unfortunately, the majority of these patients are at increased risk for subsequent complications and adverse outcomes. Therefore, considerable efforts in AHF management should be directed towards this population. Regretfully, to date no specific targeted therapy was proven beneficial for these patients, being one of the leading reasons for the lack of improvement in AHF outcomes over the last 30 years.


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