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Can J Cardiol. 2007 Sep;23(11):865-8.

Potent diuretic effects of prednisone in heart failure patients with refractory diuretic resistance.

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The First Hospital of Hebei Medical University, China.



Refractory congestive heart failure (CHF) with diuretic resistance is life-threatening and predicts a short life expectancy. Glucocorticoids have been proven to have potent diuretic effects in animal studies; however, their efficacy in CHF patients with diuretic resistance is not known.


Thirteen CHF patients with significant volume overload and diuretic resistance who failed to respond to a conventional sequential nephron blockade therapeutic strategy; that is, the coadministration of a thiazide (hydrochlorothiazide) and spironolactone, in combination with loop diuretics, were studied. Prednisone (1 mg/kg daily) was then added to standard care, with other medications unchanged, to determine diuretic efficacy in these CHF patients. Variables included body weight, urine volume, serum electrolytes and renal function.


Adding prednisone resulted in striking diuresis with a mean (+/- SD) body weight reduction of 9.39+/-3.09 kg. Prednisone significantly decreased serum creatinine by 52.21+/-48.68 mumol/L and increased glomerular filtration rate by 33.63+/-15.87 mL/min/1.73 m(2) compared with baseline. All patients were discharged from hospital with improved clinical status and renal function, and 11 patients remained alive in the long term. The main side effect of prednisone appeared to be hyperglycemia in diabetic patients.


The present study demonstrated that prednisone can rapidly eliminate volume overload and improve clinical status and renal function in CHF patients with diuretic resistance. Further prospective randomized clinical studies are warranted to confirm its clinical efficacy.

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