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Tex Heart Inst J. 2003;30(2):109-13.

Intravenous milrinone in treatment of advanced congestive heart failure.

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  • 1Departments of Transplantation and Heart Failure, Texas Heart Institute and St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Phosphodiesterase inhibitors such as milrinone can relieve symptoms and improve hemodynamics in patients with advanced congestive heart failure. We retrospectively evaluated the hemodynamic and clinical outcomes of long-term combination therapy with intravenous milrinone and oral beta-blockers in 65 patients with severe congestive heart failure (New York Heart Association class IV function and ejection fraction <25%) refractory to oral medical therapy. Fifty-one patients successfully began beta-blocker therapy while on intravenous milrinone. Oral medical therapy was maximized when possible. The mean duration of milrinone treatment in this combination-treatment group was 269 days (range, 14-1,026 days). Functional class improved from IV to II-III with milrinone therapy. Twenty-four such patients tolerated beta-blocker up-titration and were successfully weaned from milrinone. Sixteen patients (31%) died while receiving combination therapy; one died of sudden cardiac death (on treatment day 116); the other 15 died of progressive heart failure or other complications. Hospital admissions during the previous 6 months and admissions within 6 months after milrinone initiation stayed the same. Meanwhile, the total number of hospital days decreased from 450 to 380 (a 15.6% reduction), and the mean length of stay decreased by 1.4 days (a 14.7% reduction). We conclude that 1) milrinone plus beta-blocker combination therapy is an effective treatment for heart failure even with beta-blocker up-titration, 2) weaning from milrinone may be possible once medications are maximized, 3) patients' functional status improves on the combination regimen, and 4) treatment-related sudden death is relatively infrequent during the combination regimen.

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