Decompensated or acute heart failure (AHF) is characterized by increased ventricular and atrial pressures which may lead to and be caused by circulatory congestion. Unless due to a primary decrease in cardiac function, congestion arises from volume expansion or vasoconstriction. In turn, volume expansion and vasoconstriction are due to neurohormonal imbalance since both result from activation of the sympathetic nervous system, the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone axis and excess secretion of arginine vasopressin. Outcomes in AHF remain dismal. Loop diuretics are the mainstay of therapy for AHF and may themselves aggravate neurohormonal imbalance. No adjunctive pharmacotherapy has yielded improvement in outcomes in AHF despite many attempts with various vasodilators and inotropes. We, therefore, propose that insufficient attention has been paid to neurohormonal imbalance in AHF. As in chronic HF, rectifying the effects of neurohormonal imbalance may lead to better outcomes. The use of alternative decongestive strategies or adjunctive pharmacotherapy directed at neurohormonal activation could yield benefit.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine