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Circulation. 2019 Sep 12. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.119.039920. [Epub ahead of print]

Prognostic Implications of Congestion on Physical Examination Among Contemporary Patients with Heart Failure and Reduced Ejection Fraction:PARADIGM-HF.

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Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.
Cardiovascular Division, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA.
BHF Cardiovascular Research Centre, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom.
Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute, Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, TX and Imperial College, London, United Kingdom.
Novartis, East Hanover, NJ.
Institut de Cardiologie de Montreal, Université de Montreal, Montreal, Canada.
Medical University of South Carolina and RHJ Department of Veterans Administration Medical Center, Charleston, SC.
Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden and National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College, London, United Kingdom.


Background: The contemporary prognostic value of the physical examination, beyond traditional risk factors including natriuretic peptides (NPs), risk scores, and symptoms, in heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) is unknown. We sought to determine the association between physical signs of congestion at baseline and during study follow up with quality of life (QoL) and clinical outcomes and to assess the treatment effects of sacubitril/valsartan on congestion. Methods: We analyzed participants from PARADIGM-HF (Prospective Comparison of Angiotensin Receptor-Neprilysin Inhibitor With Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitor to Determine Impact on Global Mortality and Morbidity in HF) with an available physical examination at baseline. We examined the association of the number of signs of congestion (jugular venous distention, edema, rales, and S3) with the primary outcome (cardiovascular death or HF hospitalization), its individual components, and all-cause mortality using time-updated, multivariable-adjusted Cox regression. We further evaluated whether sacubitril/valsartan reduced congestion during follow-up, and whether improvement in congestion is related to changes in clinical outcomes and QoL, assessed by Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire clinical summary scores (KCCQ-OSS). Results: Among 8380 participants, 0, 1, 2, and 3+ signs of congestion were present in 70%, 21%, 7%, and 2%. Patients with baseline congestion were older, more often female, had higher Meta-Analysis Global Group in Chronic Heart Failure (MAGGIC) risk scores and lower KCCQ-OSS (p<0.05). After adjusting for baseline NPs, time-updated MAGGIC score, and time-updated New York Heart Association class, increasing time-updated congestion was associated with all outcomes (p<0.001). Sacubitril/valsartan reduced the risk of the primary outcome irrespective of clinical signs of congestion at baseline (p=0.16 for interaction), and treatment with the drug improved congestion to a greater extent than enalapril (p=0.011). Each 1-sign reduction was independently associated with a 5.1 (95%CI: 4.7-5.5) point improvement in KCCQ-OSS. Change in congestion strongly predicted outcomes even after adjusting for baseline congestion (p<0.001). Conclusions: In HFrEF, the physical exam continues to provide significant, independent prognostic value even beyond symptoms, NPs, and MAGGIC risk score. Sacubitril/valsartan improved congestion to a greater extent than enalapril. Reducing congestion in the outpatient setting is independently associated with improved QoL and reduced cardiovascular events, including mortality. Clinical Trial Registration: URL: Unique Identifier: NCT01035255.



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