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J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2009 Feb;53(2):157-61. doi: 10.1097/FJC.0b013e31819846cd.

Intermittent inotropic infusions combined with prophylactic oral amiodarone for patients with decompensated end-stage heart failure.

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3rd Cardiology Department, University of Athens School of Medicine, Athens, Greece.



Concern has been raised regarding the mortality and ethics related to the treatment of patients with end-stage chronic heart failure with chronic intermittent intravenous inotropic agents. We examined whether intermittent inotropic agents combined with oral amiodarone to prevent the proarrhythmic effect of inotropic agents results in better outcomes.


The study included 162 patients with decompensated end-stage chronic heart failure, who could be weaned from an initial 72-hour infusion of intravenous inotropes. Group 1 included 140 patients, who entered a 6-month program of weekly intermittent intravenous inotropic agents plus oral amiodarone, 200 mg twice a day. Group 2 included 22 patients, who were treated with optimal conventional therapy and were hospitalized for administration of intravenous medications as needed.


The baseline characteristics of groups 1 versus 2, including New York Heart Association functional class (IV in both groups), admission systolic arterial blood pressure (99 +/- 14 vs. 97 +/- 13 mm Hg), right atrial pressure (13 +/- 6 vs. 14 +/- 6 mm Hg), pulmonary capillary wedge pressure (28 +/- 7 vs. 31 +/- 10 mm Hg), serum sodium (136 +/- 7 vs. 139 +/- 6 mEq/L) and serum creatinine (1.7 +/- 0.8 vs. 1.8 +/- 1.8 mg/dL), were similar. The 6-month (51% vs. 18%) and 1-year (36% vs. 9%) survival rates were significantly higher (P = 0.001 for both) in group 1 than in group 2. In addition, patients treated with intermittent intravenous inotropic agents improved their functional and hemodynamic status.


Intermittent intravenous inotropic agents combined with prophylactic oral amiodarone seem to improve the outcomes of patients with end-stage chronic heart failure. Further research is warranted to elucidate whether this treatment strategy should be considered as a standard therapy in patients with refractory end-stage heart failure.

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