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Chronic heart failure


Chronic heart failure
Chronic heart failure
Chronic heart failure

Patients who have had HF as defined above for some time are often said to have ‘Chronic Heart Failure’. A treated patient with symptoms and signs that have remained generally unchanged for at least 1 month is said to be ‘Stable chronic heart failure’

Sign and Symptoms

Diagnostic Criteria

The diagnosis of Chronic heart failure requires the following features:

• Symptoms of heart failure, typically breathlessness or fatigue, at rest or during exertion
• Objective evidence of cardiac dysfunction preferably by Echocardiography (Systolic and/or Diastolic)
• A clinical response to treatment is supportive but not sufficient for diagnosis

Hence diagnosis and management of CHF should be sought at referral centres where at least echocardiography assessment can be performed



  • Pharmacological

    Treatment of Systolic Heart Failure (LVEF< 45–50%)

    Goals of treatment

    • Prevention of disease leading to cardiac dysfunction and heart failure eg hypertension, coronary artery disease, valve disease etc.
    • To achieve maintenance or improvement in quality of life and improve survival

    Approach combination therapy


    Loop diuretic

    • Furosemide 40–80mg (PO) twice a day orally
    • Torsemide 5–20mg (PO) orally

    Mineralocorticoid (Aldosterone) Receptor Antagonists:

    • Spironolactone 25–50mg ounce a day orally
    • Eplerenone 25–50mg ounce a day orally


    • Hydrochlorthiazide 12.5–25mg (PO) once a day
    • Metolazone 0.1–10mg day

    Angiotensin Receptor Inhibitors ACEI or Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARB)

    • Captopril 6.25–25mg three times a day orally
    • Enalapril 5–20mg twice a day orally.
    • Perindopril 8mg/daily orally

    Angiotensin Receptor Blocker–ARB (*Don’t combine with ACEI contraindicated, Indicated in patient sensitive to ACEIs)
    • Losartan 50mg/daily
    • Candesartan 4–16mg ounce a day orally.

    Beta blocker (Carvedilol–improve Morbidity & Mortality in CHF).
    • Carvedilolol 6.25–25mg twice a day especially in heart failure with reduced systolic function

    Note: Beta Blockers is contraindication to patients with Bronchial Asthma or Severe Pulmonary Disease Symptomatic bradycardia or hypotension

    Add on therapy in patient in NYHA class III/IV.

    Vasodilator agents: The combination of hydralazine/nitrate

    • Isosorbide mononitrate 10–20mg orally 12 hourly
    • Hydralazine 25 mg 6–8 hourly. Maximum dose: 200 mg/day

    Cardiac Glycosides–Digoxin, give with caution! has narrow therapeutic index see below under section of Cardiac Glycosides C: Digoxin 0.125mg–0.25mg once a day orally

    Note: Patients at high risk of digoxin toxicity are: Elderly, patients with poor renal function, hypokalaemia and low body weight Consider Anti–thrombotic agents–Heparin &/or warfarin under special indications see below: Congestive Heart Failure with atrial fibrillation, previous thromboembolic events or a mobile LV thrombus Heparin for DVT prophylaxis for patients admitted to hospital, unless contraindicated

    Anti–thrombotic agents.

    Heparin &/or warfarin – firmly indicated on congestive heart hailure with atrial fibrillation, previous thromboembolic events or a mobile LV thrombus Heparin for DVT prophylaxis for patients admitted to hospital, unless contraindicated:
    • Heparin 5000 units (SC) 8 hourly
    • Warfarin oral 5 mg daily. Monitor INR to therapeutic range, i.e. between 2.0–2.5 Thiamine Supplement: Consider in all unexplained heart failure


    Ideally all patients with CHF should be managed in dedicated HF clinics/units with devoted HF expert staffs (nurses & doctors).

    The following category of patients should be referred for specialized care

    •Severe HF class III/IV
    •HF of unknown origin
    •Relative contraindication: asymptomatic bradycardia and/or low blood pressure
    o Intolerance to low doses
    o Previous use of ß –blockers and discontinuation because of symptoms
    o Bronchial asthma or severe pulmonary disease
  • Non-Pharmacological

    • Patient and family education
    • Explain what Heart Failure (HF) is and why symptoms occur, cause of HF, how to recognize symptoms and what to do when they occur, daily self-weighing and what to do in case of weight gain
    • Rationale of treatment, importance of adhering to drug & non-drug prescription
    • Refrain from smoking
    • Prognosis–explain morbidity and mortality
    • Drug counseling–Effects, doses and times of administration, side effects and adverse effects
    • Dietary and social habit
    • Control sodium intake when necessary, avoid excessive fluid intake in severe HF Limit fluid intake to 1–1.5 L/day if fluid overloaded despite diuretic therapy
    • Avoid excessive alcohol intake
    • Regular exercise within limits of symptoms.
    • Sexuality counselling regarding the risk of pregnancy and the use of oral contraceptives and phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors are not recommended in advanced HF, if used nitrates should be avoided < 24–48hours of nitrate intakes

    Medicines to avoid or to be used with caution

    • NSAIDs & Coxibs
    • Class I anti–arrhythmic
    • Calcium antagonists
    • Lithium
    • Tricyclic antidepressants
    • Corticosteroids


Updated on,

5 Novemba 2020 10:55:05


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