Physician Perspectives on the Diagnosis and Management of Heart Failure With Preserved Ejection Fraction
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Background: Heart failure (HF) with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) carries high morbidity and mortality. Compared with HF with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), HFpEF is difficult to diagnose, and lacks evidence-based treatments. In this survey we assessed perceptions of cardiologists, internists, and primary care physicians (PCPs) regarding HFpEF diagnosis and management. Methods: In total, 159 cardiologists, 89 internists, and 200 PCPs from across Canada completed an online survey, with response rates of 14%-17%. Results: The perceived prevalence of HFpEF vs HFrEF was similar across physician types (58% HFrEF, 42% HFpEF). Thirty-seven percent of PCPs did not differentiate HF on the basis of ejection fraction. All physician types ranked symptom and mortality reduction as treatment priorities. Ninety-two percent of specialists believed that HFpEF is best comanaged by PCPs and specialists, whereas one-fifth of PCPs suggested PCP management alone. Compared with specialists, PCPs were more likely to underestimate HFpEF mortality and less aware of sex differences in the prevalence of HFpEF vs HFrEF (all P < 0.001). Fewer PCPs use natriuretic peptides for diagnosis (P < 0.001). All physician types listed cost and availability as barriers to natriuretic peptide use. Ninety-one percent of PCPs incorrectly identified various therapies as effective for improving HFpEF outcomes. Most of all physicians expressed a strong desire to increase knowledge of diagnostic and treatment algorithms for HFpEF. Conclusions: There are substantial knowledge gaps in the diagnosis and management of HFpEF, particularly among PCPs. Because of the prevalence of HFpEF in primary care, strategies are required to reduce these gaps.