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Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2001 Mar-Apr;43(5):433-55.

What is the optimal medical management of ischemic heart failure?

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Department of Cardiology, Castle Hill Hospital, University of Hull, Cottingham, Kingston upon Hull, United Kingdom.


Ischemic heart disease is an important and common contributor to the development of heart failure. Theoretically, all patients with heart failure may benefit from treatment designed to retard progressive ventricular dysfunction and arrhythmias. Patients with ischemic heart disease may also theoretically benefit from the relief of ischemia, the prevention of coronary occlusion, and revascularization. However, there is little evidence to show that the presence or absence of coronary disease modifies the benefits of effective treatments such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and beta-blockers. Moreover, there is no evidence that treatment directed specifically at myocardial ischemia or coronary disease alters outcome in patients with heart failure. Treatments aimed at relieving painless myocardial ischemia have not been shown to alter prognosis. Lipid-lowering therapy is theoretically attractive for patients with heart failure and coronary disease; however, theoretical concerns also exist about the safety of such agents, and patients with heart failure have been excluded from large outcome studies very effectively. Some agents, such as aspirin, designed to reduce the risk of coronary occlusion seem ineffective or harmful in patients with heart failure, although warfarin may be safe and possibly effective. There is no evidence yet that revascularization improves prognosis in patients with heart failure, even in patients who are shown to have extensive myocardial hibernation. On current evidence, revascularization should be reserved for the relief of angina. Large-scale, randomized controlled trials are currently underway that are investigating the role of specific treatments targeted at coronary syndromes. The Carvedilol Hibernation Reversible Ischemia Trial: Marker of Success study is investigating the effects of carvedilol in a large cohort of patients with and without hibernating myocardium. The Warfarin and Antiplatelet Therapy in Chronic Heart Failure study is comparing the efficacy of aspirin, clopidogrel, and warfarin. The Heart Revascularization Trial-United Kingdom study is assessing the effect of revascularization on mortality in patients with heart failure and myocardial hibernation. Smaller scale studies are assessing the safety and efficacy of statin therapy in patients with heart failure. Only once the outcomes to these and other planned trials are known can the medical community know how best to treat their patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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