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1.  The role of nurses in the management of heart failure 
Heart  2005;91(Suppl 2):ii39-ii42.
Care provided by specialist nurses has been shown to improve outcomes for patients with chronic heart failure (CHF), significantly reducing the number of unplanned readmissions, length of hospital stay, hospital costs, and mortality. Most patients develop CHF as a result of coronary artery disease. Once cardiac damage has occurred, the risk of developing heart failure can be reduced by providing appropriate treatment at appropriate dosages. While cardiac rehabilitation clinics provide an opportunity to check drug usage, their prime focus is on optimising patients' physical well being following a heart attack. In addition, evidence suggests that general practitioners are frequently reluctant to initiate appropriate treatments and to up-titrate drug dosages even for patients with diagnosed heart failure. Therefore, to ensure that these patients are not left on starting doses of medications many hospitals are now setting up nurse led post-myocardial infarction (MI) clinics. The Omada programme is a secondary care based, nurse led model of care set up in 1999 to improve the management of CHF by providing appropriate patient education within a nurse led clinic setting, optimising evidence based medication and fostering partnership between health professionals in both primary and secondary care. The model of care is highly applicable to the post-MI setting, where it can ensure that patients receive better care at an earlier stage.
PMCID: PMC1876347  PMID: 15831611
2.  Perceived barriers for treatment of chronic heart failure in general practice; are they affecting performance? 
BMC Family Practice  2005;6:19.
The aim of this study is to determine to what extent barriers perceived by general practitioners (GPs) for prescribing angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-I) in chronic heart failure (CHF) patients are related to underuse and underdosing of these drugs in actual practice.
Barriers were assessed with a semi-structured questionnaire. Prescribing data were extracted from GPs' computerised medical records for a random sample of their CHF patients. Relations between barriers and prescribing behaviour were assessed by means of Spearman rank correlation and multivariate regression modelling.
GPs prescribed ACE-I to 45% of their patients and had previously initiated such treatment in an additional 3.5%, in an average standardised dose of 13.5 mg. They perceived a median of four barriers in prescribing ACE-I or optimising ACE-I dose. Many GPs found it difficult to change treatment initiated by a cardiologist. Furthermore, initiating ACE-I in patients already using a diuretic or stable on their current medication was perceived as barrier. Titrating the ACE-I dose was seen as difficult by more than half of the GPs. No significant relationships could be found between the barriers perceived and actual ACE-I prescribing. Regarding ACE-I dosing, the few GPs who did not agree that the ACE-I should be as high as possible prescribed higher ACE-I doses.
Variation between GPs in prescribing ACE-I for CHF cannot be explained by differences in the barriers they perceive. Tailor-made interventions targeting only those doctors that perceive a specific barrier will therefore not be an efficient approach to improve quality of care.
PMCID: PMC1131898  PMID: 15869704
3.  Improvement of primary care for patients with chronic heart failure: A study protocol for a cluster randomised trial comparing two strategies 
Many patients with chronic heart failure (CHF), a common condition with high morbidity and mortality rates, receive treatment in primary care. To improve the management of CHF in primary care, we developed an implementation programme comprised of educational and organisational components, with support by a practice visitor and focus both on drug treatment and lifestyle advice, and on organisation of care within the practice and collaboration with other healthcare providers. Tailoring has been shown to improve the success of implementation programmes, but little is known about what would be best methods for tailoring, specifically with respect to CHF in primary care.
We describe the study protocol of a cluster randomised controlled trial to examine the effectiveness of tailoring a CHF implementation programme to general practices compared to a standardised way of delivering a programme. The study population will consist of 60 general practitioners (GPs) and the CHF patients they include. GPs are randomised in blocks of four, stratified according to practice size. With a tailored implementation programme GPs prioritise the issues that will form the bases of the support for the practice visits. These may comprise several issues, both educational and organizational.
The primary outcome measures are patient's experience of receiving structured primary care for CHF (PACIC, a questionnaire related to the Chronic Care Model), patients' health-related utilities (EQ-5D), and drugs prescriptions using the guideline adherence index. Patients being clustered in practices, multilevel regression analyses will be used to explore the effect of practice size and type of intervention programme. In addition we will examine both changes within groups and differences at follow-up between groups with respect to drug dosages and advice on lifestyle issues. Furthermore, in interviews the feasibility of the programme and goal attainment, organisational changes in CHF care, and formalised cooperation with other disciplines will be assessed.
In the tailoring of the programme we will present the GPs a list with barriers; GPs will assess relevance and possibility to solve these barriers. The list is rigorously developed and tested in various projects. The factors for ordering the barriers are related to the innovation, the healthcare professional, the patient, and the context.
CHF patients do not form a homogeneous group. Subgroup analyses will be performed based on the distinction between systolic CHF and CHF with preserved left ventricular function (diastolic CHF).
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3072349  PMID: 21439047
4.  Guideline Compliance in Chronic Heart Failure Patients with Multiple Comorbid Diseases: Evaluation of an Individualised Multidisciplinary Model of Care 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93129.
To assess the impact of individualised, reconciled evidence-based recommendations (IRERs) and multidisciplinary care in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) on clinical guideline compliance for CHF and common comorbid conditions.
Design and setting
A retrospective hospital clinical audit conducted between 1st July 2006 and February 2011.
A total of 255 patients with a diagnosis of CHF who attended the Multidisciplinary Ambulatory Consulting Services (MACS) clinics, at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, were included.
Main outcome measures
Compliance with Australian clinical guideline recommendations for CHF, atrial fibrillation, diabetes mellitus and ischaemic heart disease.
Study participants had a median of eight medical conditions (IQR 6–10) and were on an average of 10 (±4) unique medications. Compliance with clinical guideline recommendations for pharmacological therapy for CHF, comorbid atrial fibrillation, diabetes or ischaemic heart disease was high, ranging from 86% for lipid lowering therapy to 98% anti-platelet agents. For all conditions, compliance with lifestyle recommendations was lower than pharmacological therapy, ranging from no podiatry reviews for CHF patients with comorbid diabetes to 75% for heart failure education. Concordance with many guideline recommendations was significantly associated if the patient had IRERs determined, a greater number of recommendations, more clinic visits or if patients participated in a heart failure program.
Despite the high number of comorbid conditions and resulting complexity of the management, high compliance to clinical guideline recommendations was associated with IRER determination in older patients with CHF. Importantly these recommendations need to be communicated to the patient’s general practitioner, regularly monitored and adjusted at clinic visits.
PMCID: PMC3979669  PMID: 24714369
5.  Consultation with cardiologists for persons with new-onset chronic heart failure: A population-based study 
The Canadian Journal of Cardiology  2009;25(12):690-694.
It is recommended that persons recently diagnosed with heart failure consult with a specialist in heart failure.
To determine whether patients who were diagnosed with new-onset chronic heart failure (CHF) by a noncardiologist consulted with a cardiologist, and identify the factors associated with delayed consultation.
Physician reimbursement administrative data were obtained for all adults with suspected new-onset CHF in the year 2000 in Quebec, defined operationally as a physician visit for CHF (based on the International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision diagnostic codes), with no previous physician visit code for CHF in the preceding three years. Among those first diagnosed by a noncardiologist, Cox regression modelling was used to identify patient and physician characteristics associated with time to cardiology consultation.
Of the 13,523 persons coded as having incident CHF, 54.9% consulted a cardiologist within the next 2.5 to 3.5 years, and 67.4% were seen by an internist or cardiologist. Older patients, women, and those with lower comorbidity and socioeconomic status had significantly longer times to cardiology consultation.
The data suggest that many patients with suspected new-onset CHF do not receive prompt cardiology care, as stipulated by current recommendations. Equity of access for women and those with lower socioeconomic status appears to be problematic.
PMCID: PMC2807830  PMID: 19960128
Congestive heart failure; Health policy; Referral to cardiologists
6.  Bridging the treatment gap: the primary care perspective 
Heart  2005;91(Suppl 2):ii35-ii38.
The Darlington heart failure service model, part of the South Durham Heart Failure Network, was devised to overcome barriers to accurate diagnosis and effective management of heart failure. It involves rapid diagnosis of left ventricular systolic dysfunction (LVSD) and ongoing heart failure management. A weekly one stop diagnostic clinic, run by a general practitioner (GP) specialist and a heart failure nurse, is jointly funded by the primary care trust and the South Durham NHS Trust. If LVSD is confirmed, a management plan is formulated which includes patient education and initiation of evidence based treatment. The heart failure nursing service is invaluable in bridging the gap between primary and secondary care. Local guidelines, together with continuing education of GPs and practice nurses, and the new General Medical Services contract, should further increase the uptake of evidence based treatments at target doses.
PMCID: PMC1876344  PMID: 15831610
7.  Case management for patients with chronic systolic heart failure in primary care: The HICMan exploratory randomised controlled trial 
Trials  2010;11:56.
Chronic (systolic) heart failure (CHF) represents a clinical syndrome with high individual and societal burden of disease. Multifaceted interventions like case management are seen as promising ways of improving patient outcomes, but lack a robust evidence base, especially for primary care. The aim of the study was to explore the effectiveness of a new model of CHF case management conducted by doctors' assistants (DAs, equivalent to a nursing role) and supported by general practitioners (GPs).
This patient-randomised controlled trial (phase II) included 31 DAs and employing GPs from 29 small office-based practices in Germany. Patients with CHF received either case management (n = 99) consisting of telephone monitoring and home visits or usual care (n = 100) for 12 months. We obtained clinical data, health care utilisation data, and patient-reported data on generic and disease-specific quality of life (QoL, SF-36 and KCCQ), CHF self-care (EHFScBS) and on quality of care (PACIC-5A). To compare between groups at follow-up, we performed analyses of covariance and logistic regression models.
Baseline measurement showed high guideline adherence to evidence-based pharmacotherapy and good patient self-care: Patients received angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (or angiotensin-2 receptor antagonists) in 93.8% and 95%, and betablockers in 72.2% and 84%, and received both in combination in 68% and 80% of cases respectively. EHFScBS scores (SD) were 25.4 (8.4) and 25.0 (7.1). KCCQ overall summary scores (SD) were 65.4 (22.6) and 64.7 (22.7). We found low hospital admission and mortality rates. EHFScBS scores (-3.6 [-5.7;-1.6]) and PACIC and 5A scores (both 0.5, [0.3;0.7/0.8]) improved in favour of CM but QoL scores showed no significant group differences (Physical/Mental SF-36 summary scores/KCCQ-os [95%CI]: -0.3 [-3.0;2.5]/-0.1 [-3.4;3.1]/1.7 [-3.0;6.4]).
In this sample, with little room for improvement regarding evidence-based pharmacotherapy and CHF self-care, case management showed no improved health outcomes or health care utilisation. However, case management significantly improved performance and key intermediate outcomes. Our study provides evidence for the feasibility of the case management model.
Trial registration number
PMCID: PMC2882359  PMID: 20478035
8.  Degree of Disability and Patterns of Caregiving among Older Americans with Congestive Heart Failure 
Although congestive heart failure (CHF) is a common condition, the extent of disability and caregiving needs for those with CHF are unclear. We sought to determine: (1) prevalence of physical disability and geriatric conditions, (2) whether CHF is independently associated with disability, (3) rates of nursing home admission, and (4) formal and informal in-home care received in the older CHF population.
We used cross-sectional data from the 2000 wave of the Health and Retirement Study. We compared outcomes among three categories of older adults: (1) no coronary heart disease (CHD), (2) CHD, without CHF, and (3) CHF. Compared to those without CHF, respondents reporting CHF were more likely to be disabled (P < 0.001) and to have geriatric conditions (P < 0.001). Respondents reporting CHF were more likely to have been admitted to a nursing home (P < 0.05). CHF respondents were more functionally impaired than respondents without CHF.
The adjusted average weekly informal care hours for respondents reporting CHF was higher than for those reporting CHD but without CHF and those reporting no CHD (6.7 vs 4.1 vs 5.1, respectively; P < 0.05). Average weekly formal caregiving hours also differed among the three groups (1.3 CHF vs 0.9 CHD without CHF vs 0.7 no CHD; P > 0.05).
CHF imposes a significant burden on patients, families, and the long-term care system. Older adults with CHF have higher rates of disability, geriatric conditions, and nursing home admission.
PMCID: PMC2173919  PMID: 18030537
CHF; disability; formal and informal caregiving
9.  Statins in the Treatment of Chronic Heart Failure: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(8):e333.
The efficacy of statin therapy in patients with established chronic heart failure (CHF) is a subject of much debate.
Methods and Findings
We conducted three systematic literature searches to assess the evidence supporting the prescription of statins in CHF. First, we investigated the participation of CHF patients in randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials designed to evaluate the efficacy of statins in reducing major cardiovascular events and mortality. Second, we assessed the association between serum cholesterol and outcome in CHF. Finally, we evaluated the ability of statin treatment to modify surrogate endpoint parameters in CHF.
Using validated search strategies, we systematically searched PubMed for our three queries. In addition, we searched the reference lists from eligible studies, used the “see related articles” feature for key publications in PubMed, consulted the Cochrane Library, and searched the ISI Web of Knowledge for papers citing key publications.
Search 1 resulted in the retrieval of 47 placebo-controlled clinical statin trials involving more than 100,000 patients. CHF patients had, however, been systematically excluded from these trials. Search 2 resulted in the retrieval of eight studies assessing the relationship between cholesterol levels and outcome in CHF patients. Lower serum cholesterol was consistently associated with increased mortality. Search 3 resulted in the retrieval of 18 studies on the efficacy of statin treatment in CHF. On the whole, these studies reported favorable outcomes for almost all surrogate endpoints.
Since CHF patients have been systematically excluded from randomized, controlled clinical cholesterol-lowering trials, the effect of statin therapy in these patients remains to be established. Currently, two large, randomized, placebo-controlled statin trials are under way to evaluate the efficacy of statin treatment in terms of reducing clinical endpoints in CHF patients in particular.
A systematic review found that patients with heart failure have been excluded from randomised controlled trials on the use of statins. Evidence from other studies on the effectiveness of statins for patients with heart failure is weak and conflicting.
Editors' Summary
When medical researchers test a drug—or some other treatment—for a particular medical condition, they often decide not to include in their study anyone who has, in addition to the disease they are interested in, certain other health problems. This is because including patients with two or more conditions can complicate the analysis of the results and make it hard to reach firm conclusions. However, excluding patients in this way can result in uncertainty as to whether treatments are effective for anyone who suffers from the disease in question, or just for people like those who took part in the research.
A great deal of research has been conducted with drugs known as statins, which lower cholesterol levels in the blood. (A raised level of cholesterol is known to be a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which causes heart attacks and strokes.) As a result of this research, statins have been accepted as effective and safe. They are now, in consequence, among the most commonly prescribed medicines. Heart failure, however, is not the same thing as a heart attack. It is the name given to the condition where the muscles of the heart have become weakened, most often as a result of aging, and the heart becomes gradually less efficient at pumping blood around the body. (Some people with heart failure live for many years, but 70% of those with the condition die within ten years.) It is common for people with cardiovascular disease also to have heart failure. Nevertheless, some researchers who have studied the effects of statins have made the decision not to include in their studies any patients with cardiovascular disease who, in addition, have heart failure.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers in this study were aware that patients with heart failure have often been excluded from statin trials. They felt it was important to assess the available evidence supporting the prescription of statins for such patients. Specifically, they wanted to find out the following: how often have patients with heart failure been included in statin trials, what evidence is available as to whether it is beneficial for patients with heart failure to have low cholesterol, and what evidence is there that prescribing statins helps these patients?
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They did not do any new work involving patients. Instead, they did a very thorough search for all relevant studies of good quality that had already been published and they reviewed the results. “Randomized clinical trials” (RCTs) are the most reliable type of medical research. The researchers found there had been 47 such trials (involving over 100,000 patients) on the use of statins for treating cardiovascular disease, but all these trials had excluded heart failure patients. They found eight studies (which were not RCTs) looking at cholesterol levels and heart failure. These studies found, perhaps surprisingly, that death rates were higher in those patients with heart failure who had low cholesterol. However, they also found 18 studies (again not RCTs) on the use of statins in patients with heart failure. These 18 studies seemed to suggest that statins were of benefit to the patients who received them.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The evidence for or against prescribing statins for people with heart failure is limited, conflicting, and unclear. Further research involving RTCs is necessary. (Two such trials are known to be in progress.)
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
General information about statins is available from the Web site of Patient UK
The American Heart Association Web site is a good source of information about all types of heart disease, including heart attacks and heart failure
For a definition of randomized controlled trials see Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit
More detailed information about the quality of evidence from medical research may be found in the James Lind Library
PMCID: PMC1551909  PMID: 16933967
10.  Influence of gender of physicians and patients on guideline-recommended treatment of chronic heart failure in a cross-sectional study 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2009;11(3):299-303.
Clinical outcomes of patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) have improved, but evidence-based treatment appears to be imbalanced depending on patients' and physicians' gender. We aimed to determine the interactions of gender with medical treatment of CHF.
Methods and results
Consecutive patients with CHF (n = 1857) were evaluated regarding co-morbidities, New York Heart Association classification, current medical treatment, and dosage of angiotensin-converting enzyme-inhibitors (ACE-Is) and beta-blockers. Gender of patients and treating physicians was recorded. Baseline characteristics of patients and physicians were comparable for males and females. Female patients were less frequently treated with ACE-Is, angiotensin-receptor blockers, or beta-blockers. Achieved doses were lower in female compared with male patients. Guideline-recommended drug use and achieved target doses tended to be higher in patients treated by female physicians. There was no different treatment for male or female patients by female physicians, whereas male physicians used significantly less medication and lower doses in female patients. In multivariable analysis, female gender of physicians was an independent predictor of use of beta-blockers.
Treatment of CHF is influenced by patients', but also physicians' gender with regard to evidenced-based drugs and their dosage. Physicians should be aware of this problem in order to avoid gender-related treatment imbalances.
PMCID: PMC2645055  PMID: 19158153
Gender; Chronic heart failure; ACE inhibitor; Angiotensin antagonist
11.  Can Peak Expiratory Flow Measurements Differentiate Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease from Congestive Heart Failure? 
Dyspneic patients are commonly encountered by Emergency Medical Service (EMS). Frequent causes include Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). Measurement of peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) has been proposed to help differentiate COPD from CHF. This prospective, cohort, pilot study was conducted to determine if PEFR in patients with an exacerbation of COPD were significantly different than CHF. Included were patients presenting with dyspnea plus a history of COPD and/or CHF. A PEFR was measured, values were compared to predicted average, and a percentage was calculated. Twenty-one patients were enrolled. Six had a diagnosis of COPD, 12 CHF; 3 had other diagnoses. Mean percentage of predicted PEFR with COPD was 26.36%, CHF 48.9% (P = 0.04). Patients presenting with acute COPD had significantly lower percentage of predicted PEFR than those with CHF. These results suggest that PEFR may be useful in differentiating COPD from CHF. This study should be expanded to the prehospital setting with a larger number of subjects.
PMCID: PMC3205738  PMID: 22114739
12.  Medication adherence, self-care behaviour and knowledge on heart failure in urban South Africa: the Heart of Soweto study 
There is a paucity of data on treatment adherence in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) in Africa.
We examined the pattern of treatment adherence, self-care behaviour and treatment knowledge in 200 consecutive patients with CHF attending the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Soweto, South Africa via a combination of questionnaire (100%, n = 200) and pill count (41%, n = 82).
Mean age was 56 ± 14 years, 157 were black African (79%) and 109 (55%) were male. CHF-specific treatment included loop diuretics (93%), beta-blockers (84%), ACE inhibitors (74%), spironolactone (64%) and cardiac glycosides (24%); mean number of medications was 6 ± 2. Overall, 71% (58 of 82) adhered to their prescribed CHF regimen and individual medication adherence ranged from 64 to 79%. Behavioural adherence varied from 2.5 to 98%. Patient treatment knowledge was poor; 56% could not name medication effects or side effects. However, an average knowledge score of 69% was achieved on 10 questions concerning CHF management.
As in other regions of the world, non-adherence to complex CHF treatment is a substantial problem in Soweto. Our data confirm the need for a dedicated CHF management programme to optimise CHF-related outcomes in a low-resource environment.
PMCID: PMC3721814  PMID: 20532432
medication adherence; self-care behaviour; knowledge; heart failure; Africa
13.  Cardiac Resynchroniztion Therapy In Heart Failure: Recent Advances And New Insights 
Newer non-pharmacological therapies for heart failure are being evaluated for patients of congestive heart failure (CHF). Mechanical support with left ventricular assist devices and heart transplantation are reserved for the minority of patients who have severely decompensated heart failure. Despite these therapeutic advances, it is generally accepted that current therapies do not adequately address the clinical need of patients with heart failure, and additional strategies are being developed. Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) is a new modality that involves synchronization of ventricular contraction and has shown a lot of promise in managing symptomatic patients of CHF who are on optimal medical therapy and have interventricular conduction delay (IVCD). It has improved exercise tolerance and NYHA functional class in such patients in sinus rhythm and a recent meta-analysis has also shown mortality benefits in CHF. Recently benefits of CRT have also been observed in CHF patients who do not have wide QRS complexes on electrocardiogram (EKG). It has also been shown to benefit drug refractory angina in CHF. Recent studies have also focused on the combined use of CRT and implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) and it has shown encouraging results. Our aim in this descriptive review is to define practice guidelines and to improve clinicians' knowledge of the available published clinical evidence, concentrating on few randomized controlled trials.
PMCID: PMC1502045  PMID: 16943911
14.  Allopurinol reduces B-type natriuretic peptide concentrations and haemoglobin but does not alter exercise capacity in chronic heart failure 
Heart  2005;91(6):749-753.
Objective: To study whether the effect of allopurinol on improvement of endothelial dysfunction in chronic heart failure (CHF) translates into improved exercise capacity and to examine whether allopurinol also improves B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), the other important prognostic marker of CHF.
Design: Randomised, double blind, placebo controlled crossover trial.
Setting: Teaching hospital.
Patients: 50 patients with CHF (New York Heart Association functional classes II and III) were recruited.
Interventions: 50 patients with CHF were randomly assigned to three months’ treatment with allopurinol (300 mg/day) or placebo. At two and three months into treatment, they underwent a modified Bruce exercise protocol and a six minute walk test. Blood was taken for BNP and haemoglobin analysis.
Results: Neither exercise test was altered by allopurinol. However, plasma BNP concentrations fell significantly (p  =  0.035) with allopurinol (11.9 pmol/l) versus placebo (14.4 pmol/l). Haemoglobin concentrations also fell highly significantly with allopurinol (p  =  0.001).
Conclusions: An important negative finding is that despite high hopes for it, allopurinol had no effect on exercise capacity in CHF. On the other hand, allopurinol did reduce BNP, which is the best available surrogate marker for prognosis in CHF.
PMCID: PMC1768933  PMID: 15894768
heart failure; xanthine oxidase; antioxidants; natriuretic peptides; exercise capacity
15.  Detection of calf muscle alterations in patients with chronic heart failure by 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy: Impaired adaptation to continuous exercise 
Previous studies suggested that alteration of systemic skeletal muscle metabolism is a major determinant of exercise tolerance in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF). The authors examined calf muscle metabolism during continuous exercise of the foot in patients with CHF compared with normal subjects using 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The subjects were patients with New York Heart Association class II CHF who had previously suffered New York Heart Association class IV heart failure. Plantarflexion of the foot was repeated for 8 min 40 s at a rate of one contraction per second against a 2 kg load inside the magnet. At rest, during exercise (divided into the first one-half [EX1] and the latter one-half [EX2]) and at recovery, 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy data sets were acquired every 4 min 20 s. At rest, the phosphocreatine to hexamethylphosphoric triamide (PCr:HMPT) and the inorganic phosphate (Pi) to PCr ratios in the CHF group were not different from those in the normal group. During EX1 in the normal group, PCr levels decreased and Pi levels increased. Although exercise continued, these changes improved during EX2, suggesting there was an adaptation to exercise. The degree of change in the PCr:HMPT ratio during EX1 in the CHF group was not significantly different from that during EX1 in the normal group; however, the improvement during EX2 in the CHF group was impaired. The Pi:PCr ratio of EX1 to EX2 in the CHF group was significantly greater than that in the normal group (0.74±0.22 versus 0.19±0.05, respectively, P<0.005). Thus, in CHF, adaptation to continuous exercise may be impaired by alteration of skeletal muscle metabolism and this alteration may worsen exercise capacity.
PMCID: PMC2716221  PMID: 19641660
Calf muscle; Exercise tolerance; Heart failure; 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy
16.  The association between hospital volume and processes, outcomes, and costs of care for congestive heart failure 
Annals of Internal Medicine  2011;154(2):94-102.
Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is common and costly, and despite pharmacologic and technical advances, outcomes remain suboptimal.
To examine whether hospitals that have more experience caring for patients with CHF provide better, more efficient care.
We used national Medicare claims data from 2006–2007 to examine the relationship between hospitals’ case volume and quality, outcomes, and costs for patients with CHF.
4,095 U.S. hospitals
Medicare fee-for-service patients with a primary discharge diagnosis of CHF
Hospital Quality Alliance (HQA) CHF process measures, 30-day risk-adjusted mortality rates, 30-day risk-adjusted readmission rates, and costs per discharge.
Hospitals in the lowest volume group had lower performance on HQA measures than medium- or high-volume hospitals (80.2% versus 87.0% versus 89.1%, p<0.001). Within the low volume group, being admitted to a hospital with a higher case volume was associated with lower mortality, lower readmission, and higher costs. For example, in the lowest volume group of hospitals, an increase of 10 cases of CHF was associated with 1% lower odds of mortality, 1% lower odds of readmissions and $22 higher costs per case. We found similar though smaller relationships between case volume and both mortality and costs in the medium and high-volume hospital cohorts.
Our analysis was limited to Medicare patients 65 years of age or older; risk adjustment was performed using administrative data.
Experience with managing CHF, as measured by an institution’s volume, is associated with higher quality of care and better outcomes for patients, but at a higher cost. Understanding which practices employed by high-volume institutions account for these advantages can help improve quality of care and clinical outcomes for all CHF patients.
PMCID: PMC3336194  PMID: 21242366
17.  Dyads Affected by Chronic Heart Failure: A Randomized Study Evaluating Effects of Education and Psychosocial Support to Patients With Heart Failure and Their Partners 
Journal of Cardiac Failure  2012;18(5):359-366.
Chronic heart failure (CHF) causes great suffering for both patients and their partners. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of an integrated dyad care program with education and psychosocial support to patients with CHF and their partners during a postdischarge period after acute deterioration of CHF.
One hundred fifty-five patient-caregiver dyads were randomized to usual care (n = 71) or a psychoeducation intervention (n = 84) delivered in 3 modules through nurse-led face-to-face counseling, computer-based education, and other written teaching materials to assist dyads to develop problem-solving skills. Follow-up assessments were completed after 3 and 12 months to assess perceived control, perceived health, depressive symptoms, self-care, and caregiver burden.
Baseline sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of dyads in the experimental and control groups were similar at baseline. Significant differences were observed in patients’ perceived control over the cardiac condition after 3 (P < .05) but not after 12 months, and no effect was seen for the caregivers. No group differences were observed over time in dyads’ health-related quality of life and depressive symptoms, patients’ self-care behaviors, and partners’ experiences of caregiver burden.
Integrated dyad care focusing on skill-building and problem-solving education and psychosocial support was effective in initially enhancing patients’ levels of perceived control. More frequent professional contact and ongoing skills training may be necessary to have a higher impact on dyad outcomes and warrants further research.
PMCID: PMC3381875  PMID: 22555264
Family; health-related quality of life; perceived control; self-care
18.  The Effect of Dementia on Medication Use and Adherence Among Medicare Beneficiaries With Chronic Heart Failure 
Alzheimer disease and related disorders (ADRD) are prevalent in older adults, increase the costs of chronic heart failure (CHF) management, and may be associated with undertreatment of cardiovascular disease.
The purpose of our study was to determine the relationship between comorbid ADRD and CHF medication use and adherence among Medicare beneficiaries with CHF.
This 2-year (1/1/2006–12/31/2007) cross-sectional study used data from the Chronic Condition Data Warehouse of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Medicare beneficiaries with evidence of CHF who had systolic dysfunction and Medicare Parts A, B, and D coverage during the entire study period were included. ADRD was identified based on diagnostic codes using the Chronic Condition Data Warehouse algorithm. CHF evidence-based medications (EBMs) were selected based on published guidelines: angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, selected β-blockers, aldosterone antagonists, and selected vasodilators. Measures of EBMs included a binary measure of any EBM use and medication possession ratio among users.
Of 9827 beneficiaries with CHF and systolic dysfunction, 24.2% had a diagnosis of ADRD. Beneficiaries with ADRD were older (80.8 vs 73.6 years; P < 0.0001) and more likely to be female (69.3% vs 58.1%; P < 0.0001). Overall EBM use was lower in patients with CHF and ADRD compared with patients with CHF but no ADRD (85.3% vs 91.2%; P < 0.0001). Lower use among those with ADRD was consistent across all EBM classes except vasodilators. Among beneficiaries receiving EBM, those with ADRD had a slightly higher mean medication possession ratio for EBM compared with those without ADRD (0.86 vs 0.84; P = 0.0001).
EBM medication adherence was high in this population, regardless of ADRD status. However, patients with ADRD had lower EBM use compared with those without ADRD. Low use of specific EBM medications such as β-blockers was found in both groups. Therefore, interventions targeting increased treatment with specific EBMs for CHF, even among patients with ADRD, may be of benefit and could help reduce CHF-related hospitalizations.
PMCID: PMC3296564  PMID: 22264854
dementia; heart failure; Medicare Part D; medication adherence
19.  Worsening chronic heart failure and the link to frequent hospital admissions and need of specialist care 
Worsening chronic heart failure (CHF) is largely characterised by disabling symptoms, poor quality of life, frequent hospital admissions and need of specialist care. Lack of alternative care results in involuntary hospitalisation.
In a pilot study evaluate home care (HC) versus conventional care (CC) in relation to medical safety, health-related quality of life (HRQL) and cost-utility in patients with worsening CHF.
Thirty-one patients with deteriorating CHF were randomised to HC or CC when seeking medical attention at hospital. Patients in the HC group were discharged from the hospital and were followed-up in their homes by a specialist nurse. Patients in the control group were treated in hospital with usual care. Follow-ups were conducted for both groups, 1, 4, 8 and 12 months after inclusion in the study. Health-related quality of life assessed by EuroQol-5D VAS, Standard Gamble technique, SF-36 and Kansas City cardiomyopathy Questionnaire. All health care related costs were assessed and cost utility analysis was performed to compare cost/QALYs between groups.
There was no significant difference in clinical events, adverse events or in HRQL. The total cost related to CHF was lower in the HC group after 12 months. Median direct health care related costs in HC were € 1122 and in CC € 5670 (p 0.05). Cost/QALYs ranged € 74–580 in HC compared to CC € 289–1013, calculated from each follow-up. The cost utility ratio was (CC/HC) 2.55 (SG) and 2.65 (VAS).
Reductions in cost of care for selected patients with CHF eligible for hospital care might be achieved by a very early discharge from hospital followed by home visits. More importantly, HC seems to be safe and no difference was found in HRQL between two groups. This pilot study provides clinicians with useful information in their decisions concerning CHF patient management, who are reluctant to hospitalisation.
PMCID: PMC2430295
chronic heart failure; healthcare cost; quality-adjusted life years; home care; cost-utility analysis; safety
20.  A Remote Patient Monitoring System for Congestive Heart Failure 
Journal of medical systems  2011;35(5):1165-1179.
Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a leading cause of death in the United States affecting approximately 670,000 individuals. Due to the prevalence of CHF related issues, it is prudent to seek out methodologies that would facilitate the prevention, monitoring, and treatment of heart disease on a daily basis. This paper describes WANDA (Weight and Activity with Blood Pressure Monitoring System); a study that leverages sensor technologies and wireless communications to monitor the health related measurements of patients with CHF. The WANDA system is a three-tier architecture consisting of sensors, web servers, and back-end databases. The system was developed in conjunction with the UCLA School of Nursing and the UCLA Wireless Health Institute to enable early detection of key clinical symptoms indicative of CHF-related decompensation. This study shows that CHF patients monitored by WANDA are less likely to have readings fall outside a healthy range. In addition, WANDA provides a useful feedback system for regulating readings of CHF patients.
PMCID: PMC3236812  PMID: 21611788
Health monitoring; Telemedicine; Wireless health; Congestive heart failure patients monitoring; Real-time feedback; Data integrity; Database backup
21.  Prevention of relapse in patients with congestive heart failure: the role of precipitating factors 
Heart  1998;80(5):432-436.
Relapse of congestive heart failure (CHF) frequently occurs and has serious consequences in terms of morbidity, mortality, and health care expenditure. Many studies have investigated the aetiological and prognostic factors of CHF, but there are only limited data on the role of precipitating factors that trigger relapse of CHF. Knowledge of potential precipitating factors may help to optimise treatment and provide guidance for patients with CHF. The literature was reviewed to identify factors that may influence haemodynamic homeostasis in CHF. Precipitating factors that may offer opportunities for preventing relapse of CHF were selected. Potential precipitating factors are discussed in relation to the pathophysiology of CHF: alcohol, smoking, psychological stress, uncontrolled hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, myocardial ischaemia, poor treatment compliance, and inappropriate medical treatment. Poor treatment compliance in particular is frequently encountered in patients with CHF. Furthermore, studies of medical treatment under everyday circumstances indicate that some aspects of the management of CHF can be improved. In conclusion, the identification of precipitating factors for relapse of CHF may strongly contribute to optimal treatment. Improvement of treatment compliance and optimalisation of medical treatment may offer important possibilities to clinicians to reduce the number of relapses in patients with CHF.

 Keywords: congestive heart failure;  precipitating factors;  prevention
PMCID: PMC1728829  PMID: 9930039
22.  Chronic heart failure in Japan: Implications of the CHART studies 
The prognosis of patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) still remains poor, despite the recent advances in medical and surgical treatment. Furthermore, CHF is a major public health problem in most industrialized countries where the elderly population is rapidly increasing. Although the prevalence and mortality of CHF used to be relatively low in Japan, the disorder has been markedly increasing due to the rapid aging of the society and the Westernization of lifestyle that facilitates the development of coronary artery disease. The Chronic Heart Failure Analysis and Registry in the Tohoku District (CHART)-1 study was one of the largest cohorts in Japan. The study has clarified the characteristics and prognosis of Japanese patients with CHF, demonstrating that their prognosis was similarly poor compared with those in Western countries. However, we still need evidence for the prevention and treatment of CHF based on the large cohort studies or randomized treatment trials in the Japanese population. Since the strategy for CHF management is now changing from treatment to prevention, a larger-size prospective cohort, called the CHART-2 study, has been initiated to evaluate the risk factors of CHF in Japan. This review summarizes the current status of CHF studies in Japan and discusses their future perspectives.
PMCID: PMC2464764  PMID: 18629369
heart failure; aging; Japanese
23.  Prevalence and misdiagnosis of chronic heart failure in nursing home residents: the role of B-type natriuretic peptides 
Netherlands Heart Journal  2008;16(4):123-128.
Without knowing the exact CHF prevalence, chronic heart failure (CHF) occurs frequently in elderly people both inside and outside nursing homes. For a diagnosis we have to rely on physical examination and additional tests. We therefore run the risk of missing CHF diagnoses or of diagnosing CHF when we should not. Natriuretic peptide assays have emerged as a diagnostic test but their use in nursing home residents is limited. We examined the number of misdiagnoses, the CHF prevalence and the role of natriuretic peptide.
Residents in one centre without aphasia, cognitive impairments or metastatic cancer were screened for CHF; the natriuretic peptide levels were measured separately.
Of the 150 residents, 103 (64%) were included (79±11 years). The diagnosis of CHF was established in 24 of these 103 residents with NTproBNP 1871 (IQR 539 to 4262) and BNP 194 (IQR 92 to 460) pg/ml. A striking result was that of the 24 residents found to have CHF after the screening, 15 (66%) had previously been undetected: NT-proBNP 1146 (interquartile range (IQR) 228 to 3341) and BNP 200 (IQR 107 to 433) pg/ml. Moreover, in 13 out of 22 residents (62%) who had previously been thought to have CHF, the diagnosis was rejected: NT-proBNP 388 (IQR 174 to 719) and BPN 90 (IQR 35 to 128) pg/ml). Regarding the diagnostic accuracy of NT-proBNP and BNP, the optimal cut-off level of NT-proBNP was 450 pg/ml with a sensitivity of 0.71 and specificity of 0.67, and for BNP it was 100 pg/ml with a sensitivity of 0.71 and specificity of 0.70.
Both undetected and incorrect diagnoses of CHF were common. NT-proBNP and BNP were moderately accurate at diagnosing CHF. CHF prevalence was 23%. (Neth Heart J 2008;16:123-8.)
PMCID: PMC2300465  PMID: 18427636
heart failure; prevalence; misdiagnosis; B-type natriuretic peptide; elderly; comorbidity; nursing home
24.  Abnormal Baroreflex Function is Dissociated from Central Angiotensin II Receptor Expression in Chronic Heart Failure 
Shock (Augusta, Ga.)  2012;37(3):319-324.
Neurohumoral disturbances characterize chronic heart failure (CHF) and are reflected, in part, as impairment of baroreflex sensitivity (BRS) and sympathetic function. However the mechanisms that trigger these neurohumoral abnormalities in CHF are not clear. We hypothesized that the BRS is blunted early in CHF and that the humoral effects occur later and contribute to progressive loss of cardiovascular control in CHF. We assessed the BRS (bpm/mmHg) and recorded renal sympathetic nerve activity (RSNA) in four groups of conscious rabbits at varying time intervals; control, one week CHF, two week CHF and three week CHF. CHF was induced by ventricular pacing at 360 bpm and was assessed by echocardiography. Arterial blood pressure and heart rate were recorded by an implanted telemetric device and RSNA through an implanted electrode. A significant fall in the ejection fraction, fractional shortening and an increase in LVESD & LVEDD was observed in all CHF groups. The BRS was significantly reduced in all the CHF groups with no significant change in the basal RSNA(% of maximum) after 1 week of pacing, a small but insignificant rise in RSNA was seen at 2 weeks and a significant rise in RSNA was observed at 3 weeks. AT1 receptor protein (Western Blot) and mRNA (RT-PCR) expression in the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM) exhibited a progressive increase with the duration of CHF, reaching significance after 3 weeks, the same time point in which RSNA was significantly elevated. These data are the first to examine early changes in central AT1 receptors in CHF and suggest that the fall in BRS and hemodynamic changes occur early in the development of CHF followed by sympatho-excitation and over-expression of AT1 receptors with the progression of CHF causing further impairment of cardiovascular control.
PMCID: PMC3281308  PMID: 22258229
Baroreflex; heart failure; sympathetic activity; angiotensin II receptor
25.  Acute and chronic effects of continuous positive airway pressure therapy on left ventricular systolic and diastolic function in patients with obstructive sleep apnea and congestive heart failure 
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may contribute to the pathogenesis of congestive heart failure (CHF). Nocturnal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy can alleviate OSA and may have a role in the treatment of CHF patients.
To investigate the acute and chronic effects of CPAP therapy on left ventricular systolic function, diastolic function and filling pressures in CHF patients with OSA.
Twelve patients with stable CHF (New York Heart Association II or III, radionuclide ejection fraction lower than 40%) underwent overnight polysomnography to detect OSA. In patients with OSA (n=7), echocardiography was performed at baseline (awake, before and during acute CPAP administration) and after 6.9±3.3 weeks of nocturnal CPAP therapy. Patients without OSA (n=5) did not receive CPAP therapy, but underwent a baseline and follow-up echocardiogram.
In CHF patients with OSA, acute CPAP administration resulted in a decrease in stroke volume (44±15 mL versus 50±14 mL, P=0.002) and left ventricular ejection fraction ([LVEF] 34.8±5.0% versus 38.4±3.3%, P=0.006) compared with baseline, but no change in diastolic function or filling pressures (peak early diastolic mitral annular velocity [Ea]: 6.0±1.6 cm/s versus 6.3±1.6 cm/s, P not significant; peak early filling velocity to peak late filling velocity [E/A] ratio: 1.05±0.74 versus 1.00±0.67, P not significant; E/Ea ratio: 10.9±4.1 versus 11.3±4.1, P not significant). In contrast, chronic CPAP therapy resulted in a trend to an increase in stroke volume (59±19 mL versus 50±14 mL, P=0.07) and a significant increase in LVEF (43.4±4.8% versus 38.4±3.3%, P=0.01) compared with baseline, but no change in diastolic function or filling pressures (Ea: 6.2±1.2 cm/s versus 6.3±1.6 cm/s, P not significant; E/A ratio: 1.13±0.61 versus 1.00±0.67, P not significant; E/Ea ratio: 12.1±2.7 versus 11.3±4.1, P not significant). There was no change in left ventricular systolic function, diastolic function or filling pressures at follow-up in CHF patients without OSA.
Acute CPAP administration decreased stroke volume and LVEF in stable CHF patients with OSA. In contrast, chronic CPAP therapy for seven weeks improved left ventricular systolic function, but did not affect diastolic function or filling pressures. The potential clinical implications of the discrepant effects of CPAP therapy on left ventricular systolic and diastolic function in CHF patients with OSA warrant further study.
PMCID: PMC2643175  PMID: 18787720
Congestive heart failure; Continuous positive airway pressure therapy; Echocardiography; Left ventricular function; Obstructive sleep apnea

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