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Am J Med. 2001 May 7;110 Suppl 7A:47S-62S.

Medical management of mild-to-moderate heart failure before the advent of beta blockers.

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Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Gill Heart Institute, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, (WTA), Lexington 40536-0284, USA.


Clinical trials of beta blockers in heart failure have generally required that patients be receiving optimal drug therapy before randomization to the study medication. Therefore, because beta blockers are used in addition to conventional drug therapy, review of the standard drug therapy of mild-to-moderate heart failure before the advent of beta blockade is essential to understanding the role of beta blockers in the treatment of heart failure. The conventional medical management of systolic heart failure includes angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which should be used as first-line therapy; diuretics, for the management of body fluid-volume excess; digoxin; and some other vasodilators. These therapies have been evaluated in large-scale, randomized, controlled trials. ACE inhibitors have been shown to significantly attenuate disease progression and improve outcome (ie, morbidity and mortality) in patients with mild-to-moderate systolic heart failure. Controversial or unproven therapies include nonglycoside inotropic agents, angiotensin II receptor antagonists, antiarrhythmic agents, anticoagulants, and calcium channel blockers. The pharmacologic management of diastolic heart failure is largely empirical and is directed at reducing symptoms. Symptoms caused by increased ventricular filling pressures may be treated with diuretics and long-acting nitrates. Some calcium channel blockers and most beta blockers prolong diastolic filling time by slowing heart rate, thereby potentially improving the symptoms of diastolic heart failure. Calcium antagonists, beta blockers, diuretics, and ACE inhibitors may also promote regression of left ventricular hypertrophy and thus improve ventricular compliance, possibly preventing the development of diastolic dysfunction. Because randomized controlled trials of diastolic heart failure are lacking, this review focuses on the conventional management of mild-to-moderate systolic heart failure before the advent of beta blockade.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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