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Eur J Heart Fail. 2000 Sep;2(3):305-13.

Effects of high-dose furosemide and small-volume hypertonic saline solution infusion in comparison with a high dose of furosemide as a bolus, in refractory congestive heart failure.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy.



Diuretics, have been accepted as first-line treatment in refractory heart failure, but a lack of response is a frequent event. A randomised single blind study was performed to evaluate the effects of the combination of high-dose furosemide and small-volume hypertonic saline solution (HSS) infusion in the treatment of refractory NYHA class IV congestive heart failure (CHF).


Sixty patients (21 F/39 M) with refractory CHF (NYHA class IV) of different etiologies, unresponsive to high oral doses of furosemide, ACE-inhibitors, digitalis, and nitrates, aged 65-90 years, were enrolled. They had to have an ejection fraction (EF) <35%, serum creatinine <2 mg/dl, BUN </=60 mg/dl, a reduced urinary volume and a low natriuresis. The patients were randomised in two groups (single blind): group 1 (11 F/19 M) received an i.v. infusion of furosemide (500-1000 mg) plus HSS (150 ml of 1.4-4.6% NaCl) b.i.d. in 30 min. Group 2 (10 F/20 M) received an i.v. bolus of furosemide (500-1000 mg) b.i.d., without HSS, during a period lasting 6-12 days. Both groups received KCl (20-40 mEq.) i.v. to prevent hypokalemia. All patients underwent at entry a physical examination, measurement of body weight (BW), blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR), evaluation of signs of CHF, and controls of serum Na, K, Cl, bicarbonate, albumin, uric acid, creatinine, urea and glycemia and daily during hospitalization, as well as the daily output of urine for, Na, K and Cl measurements. Chest X-ray, ECG and echocardiogram were obtained at entry during and at the discharge. During the treatment and after discharge the daily dietary Na intake was 120 mmol with a drink fluid intake of 1000 ml daily. An assessment of BW and 24-h urinary volume, serum and urinary laboratory parameters, until reaching a compensated state, were performed daily, when i.v. furosemide was replaced with oral administration (250-500 mg/day). After discharge, patients were followed as outpatients weekly for the first 3 months and subsequently once per month.


The groups were similar for age, sex, EF, risk factors, treatment and etiology of CHF. All patients showed a clinical improvement. Six patients in both groups had hyponatremia (from 120 to 128 mEq./l) at entry. A significant increase in daily diuresis in both groups was observed (from 390+/-155 to 2100+/-626, and from 433+/-141 to 1650+/-537 ml/24 h, P<0.05). Natriuresis (from 49+/-15 to 198+/-28 mEq./24 h) was higher in group 1 vs. group 2 (from 53.83+/-12 to 129+/-39 mEq./24 h, P<0.05). Serum Na (from 135.9+/-6.8 to 142.2+/-3. 8 mEq./l, P<0.05) increased in the group 1 and decreased in the group 2 (from 134.7+/-7.9 to 130.1+/-4.3 mEq./l). Serum K was decreased (from 4.4+/-0.6 to 3.9+/-0.6, and 4.6+/-9 to 3.6+/-0.5 mEq. /l, P<0. 05) in both groups. BW was reduced (from 73.8+/-9.1 to 63. 8+/-8.8, and from 72.9+/-10.2 to 64.5+/-7.5 kg, P<0. 05) in both groups. Group 2 showed more patients in NYHA class III than group 1 (18 vs. 2 patients, P<0.05). Group 2 showed an increase of serum creatinine. Serum uric acid increased in both groups. BP values decreased, and HR was corrected to normal values in both groups. Group 2 showed a longer hospitalization time than group receiving HHS infusion (11.67+/-1.8 vs. 8.57+/-2.3 days, P<0.001). In the follow-up (6-12 months), none of the patients from group 1 were readmitted to the hospital and they maintained the NYHA class achieved at the discharge. Group 2 showed 12 patients readmitted to hospital and a higher class than at discharge.


Our data suggest that the combination of furosemide with HSS is feasible and it appears that this combination produces an improvement of hemodynamic and clinical parameters, reduces the hospitalization time and maintains the obtained results over time in comparison with those receiving high-dose furosemide as bolus.

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