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Acute decompensated heart failure: current pharmacological approaches

Authors Pascual-Figal D, Pastor-Perez F, Caballero L, Garrido IP, Perez-Martinez MT

Received 6 February 2014

Accepted for publication 16 April 2014

Published 16 September 2014 Volume 2014:5 Pages 227—236


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Domingo A Pascual-Figal, Francisco Pastor-Perez, Luis Caballero, Iris P Garrido, Maria Teresa Perez-Martinez

Cardiology Department, Virgen de la Arrixaca University Hospital, School of Medicine, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain

Abstract: Acute heart failure (AHF) represents a major burden in developed countries. However, pharmacological approaches have remained almost the same for 30 years and are still based on consensus rather than evidence, given that no medical therapy has been shown to positively affect clinical outcomes. Current pharmacological approaches are still based on decongestion by using diuretics in almost all patients, plus either vasodilators or inotropic agents to improve hemodynamics according to perfusion status. The role of loop diuretics (furosemide) and nitrates (nitroglycerin and nitroprusside) is well established, but new agents such as vasopressin and adenosine antagonists, as well as nesiritide, have failed to show any additional value. In the presence of hypoperfusion, the use of inotropics must be considered despite the lack of benefit in terms of survival, and the use of phosphodiesterase inhibitors and levosimendan has not shown any significant advantages over catecholamines (dobutamine). AHF involves a wide spectrum of patients and syndromes, and this probably accounts for the failure of trials set up to evaluate new therapeutic approaches for improving outcomes: therapies need to be tailored to specific patients. At this time, serelaxin represents a promising new agent which has a multifaceted effect, including organ protection, and has shown encouraging results when tailored for a well defined population. In addition, the role of ularitide, a synthetic form of the natriuretic peptide urodilatin, and the new cardiac myosin activators, as a new class of inotropic agents, will be established in the near future by ongoing trials. Therefore, AHF continues to be an unsolved problem and, in light of the lessons learned, new pharmacological approaches should be tailored to well defined AHF populations, incorporating concepts such as “the sooner the better”, “improve and stabilize”, and “prevent organ damage”, in order to be able to improve clinical outcomes, including both mortality and readmission rates.

Keywords: heart failure, acute, therapy, pharmacology

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