Community management of heart failure.
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OBJECTIVE: To review therapies for treating patients with heart failure (HF). QUALITY OF EVIDENCE: Recommendations in this paper are mainly based on the results of randomized controlled trials. To a lesser extent, data from smaller, more physiologic studies are included. Where appropriate, recommendations are based on the results of a consensus conference. MAIN MESSAGE: Although pharmacologic therapy is the main strategy for treating HF patients, general measures, such as counseling and advice about regular physical activity, are an important component of management. Use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-I) is central to treating HF patients, because these agents decrease mortality and morbidity significantly. Digoxin does not reduce mortality but does reduce morbidity. Angiotensin II antagonists, although found to provide clinical benefit equal to ACE-I, have not been found as yet to have similar effects on mortality and morbidity. Diuretics and nitrates are useful for treating these patients' symptoms. Calcium channel blockers should generally be avoided. CONCLUSIONS: Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors are the therapy of choice for HF patients and should be used in all cases unless there are contraindications or clear evidence of intolerance. All other therapies are used mainly for symptom relief.
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