Updated Guidelines for Heart Failure

The American College of Cardiology Foundation (ACCF) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have updated their guidelines on the diagnosis and management of heart failure (HF). Published jointly in the April 14, 2009 issues of Circulation and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the new document revised guidelines previously released in 2005. They reflect the latest research findings on the management of HF, a condition that affects approximately 5.7 million Americans. “The purpose of the guideline update is to provide clinicians with recommendations for care using the best-available evidence,” says Mariell Jessup, MD, FACC, FAHA, who chaired the ACCF/AHA writing committee that updated the guidelines. “The new recommendations are based on randomized clinical trials and important registry data whenever possible.” Key Revisions Among several key updates, the new guidelines incorporate recommendations about the management of acute HF in the hospitalized patient. In addition, the document includes concrete recommendations on the use of a fixed-dose combination of hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate. The recommendation concerning hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate was strengthened based on findings from the A-HeFT (African-American Heart Failure Trial) trial. “The complete evidence resulting from A-HeFT was not available at the time of the publication of the last guidelines in 2005,” says Dr. Jessup. “We therefore felt it was important to strengthen the recommendation to Class I so that all self-identified African Americans who remained symptomatic despite optimal medical therapy would be offered the hydralazine/isosorbide dinitrate combination.” In order to keep recommendations in alignment with those from the ventricular arrhythmia guidelines published by the ACCF/AHA, the document also clarifies previous recommendations surrounding the use of implantable cardioverter...