Issues in cardiovascular nursing| Volume 37, ISSUE 3, P173-178, May 2008

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Management of acute decompensated heart failure in an evidence-based era: What is the evidence behind the current standard of care?

  • Wassim H. Fares
    Corresponding author: Wassim H. Fares, MD, Department of General Internal Medicine, Section of Hospital Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44195.
    Department of General Internal Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio.
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      Despite the increased mortality and morbidity in patients with acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF), its management has been based primarily on anecdotal experiences and physiologic assumptions rather than on prospective randomized controlled trials. The data on diuretics have been conflicting. Routine use of inotropes in ADHF has been clearly associated with increased mortality and morbidity, although inotropes seem to cause short-term clinical improvement. The safety of the different vasoactive medications has never been adequately confirmed in prospective trials despite their use for a long time in heart failure. Good evidence that supports the safety and efficacy of the different medications that are routinely used in ADHF is lacking. Unless properly designed prospective clinical trials are done to evaluate the safety of the various ADHF regimens, clinicians might continue to be misguided by the beneficial short-term effects at the expense of long-term mortality and morbidity.
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