Value of routine investigations to predict loop diuretic down-titration success in stable heart failure
Abstract Aims Guidelines advocate down-titration of loop diuretics in chronic heart failure (CHF) when patients have no signs of volume overload. Limited data are available on the expected success rate of this practice or how routine diagnostic tests might help steering this process. Methods and Results Fifty ambulatory CHF-patients on stable neurohumoral blocker/diuretic therapy for at least 3months without any clinical sign of volume overload were prospectively included to undergo loop diuretic down-titration. All patients underwent a similar pre-down-titration evaluation consisting of a dyspnea scoring, physical examination, transthoracic echocardiography (diastolic function, right ventricular function, cardiac filling pressures and valvular disease), blood sample (serum creatinine, plasma NT-pro-BNP and neurohormones). Loop diuretic maintenance dose was subsequently reduced by 50% or stopped if dose was ≤40mg furosemide equivalents. Successful down-titration was defined as a persistent dose reduction after 30days without weight increase >1.5kg or new-onset symptoms of worsening heart failure. At 30-day follow-up, down-titration was successful in 62% (n=31). In 12/19 patients exhibiting down-titration failure, this occurred within the first week. Physical examination, transthoracic echocardiography and laboratory analysis had limited predictive capability to detect patients with down-titration success/failure (positive likelihood-ratios below 1.5, or area under the curve [AUC] non-statically different from AUC=0.5). Conclusion Loop diuretic down-titration is feasible in a majority of stable CHF patients in which the treating clinician felt continuation of loops was unnecessary to sustain euvolemia. Importantly, routine diagnostics which suggest euvolemia, have limited diagnostic impact on the post-test probability.
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