Extracorporeal ultrafiltration for congestive heart failure patients

Maria Rosa Costanzo, Claudio Ronco
Contributions to Nephrology 2011, 171: 201-7
In the US and Europe, approximately 90% of heart failure (HF) hospitalizations are due to symptoms and signs of sodium and fluid excess. Congestion is associated with HF progression. According to data from large national registries, approximately 40% of hospitalized HF patients are discharged with unresolved congestion, which may contribute to unacceptably high rehospitalization rates. Diuretics reduce the symptoms and signs of fluid overload, but their effectiveness can be reduced by excess salt intake, underlying chronic kidney disease, renal adaptation to their action, and neurohormonal activation. In addition, the production of hypotonic urine limits the ability of loop diuretics to reduce total body sodium. Ultrafiltration is the mechanical removal of fluid from the vasculature. Clinical studies of ultrafiltration have shown that removal of isotonic fluid relieves symptoms of congestion, improves cardiac filling pressures and exercise capacity, and restores diuretic responsiveness in patients with diuretic resistance, concomitantly with favorable effects on pulmonary function, ventilatory efficiency, and neurohormonal activation. Ultrafiltration has been shown to reduce rehospitalizations in a randomized controlled trial of patients with decompensated HF. Future larger controlled clinical trials should evaluate the effect of ultrafiltration on survival.

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