Most patients hospitalized for acutely decompensated heart failure (ADHF) present with symptoms and signs of volume overload, which is also associated with substantially high rates of death and rehospitalization in ADHF.
To review the recent experimental and clinical evidence on existing therapeutic algorithms and investigational drugs used for the treatment of volume overload in ADHF patients.
A systematic search of peer-reviewed publications was performed on Medline and EMBASE from January 1990 to March 2012. The results of unpublished trials were obtained from presentations at national and international meetings.
Apart from intrinsic renal insufficiency and neurohormonal activation, volume overload through venous congestion may be the primary haemodynamic factor triggering the worsening of renal function in ADHF patients. It is well known that heart and kidneys are closely interrelated and an acute or chronic disorder in one organ may induce acute or chronic dysfunction in the other organ. Established therapeutic strategies, (e.g. loop diuretics, vasodilators, and inotropes), are sometimes associated with limited clinical success due to tolerance and the need for frequent up titration of the doses in order to achieve the desired effect. That leads to an increasing interest in novel options, such as the use of adenosine A1 receptor antagonists, vasopressin antagonists, and renal-protective dopamine. Initial clinical trials have shown quite encouraging results in some heart failure subpopulations but have failed to demonstrate a clear beneficial role of these agents. On the other hand, ultrafiltration appears to be a more promising therapeutic procedure that will improve volume regulation, while preserving renal and cardiac function.
Further clinical studies are required in order to determine their net effect on renal function and potential cardiovascular outcomes. Until then, management of volume overload in ADHF patients remains a challenge for the clinicians.
Keywords: Decompensated heart failure, pathophysiology, renal failure, salt retention, therapeutic options, volume overload