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Evidence-based management of heart failure in clinical practice: a review of device-based therapy use

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Abstract Background: 

Heart failure is a growing health issue and is associated with significant mortality risk. Device therapy is efficacious in preventing sudden death in patients with heart failure; however, this evidence comes from rigorous clinical trials. It is unclear how device therapy is utilized in ‘real-world’ practice. The primary objective was to characterize patterns of device use in patients with heart failure at risk of sudden death and to identify barriers to guideline-driven prescription of implantable cardioverter–defibrillators. Methods: 

We report a cross-sectional study of patients attending general cardiology clinic over a 3-month period. Results: 

Of 1003 consecutive patients attending the cardiology clinic, 176 had heart failure. Of these, 66 were potentially eligible for device therapy, but only 16 of these had actually undergone device implantation. Potentially eligible non-recipients were older (P < 0.001), more likely to have ischaemic cardiomyopathy (P= 0.002), less likely to be prescribed spironolactone (P= 0.005) or warfarin (P= 0.02), and less likely to have a widened QRS > 120 ms (P= 0.005). There was a high prevalence of underuse of evidence-based pharmacotherapies among patients with heart failure. Conclusion: 

There is substantial underuse of device therapy in patients with heart failure. Strikingly, whereas patients with symptoms of heart failure were more likely to receive a device, those being managed for ischaemic heart disease were not. There is also a high prevalence of failure to prescribe evidence-based pharmacotherapy in a tertiary hospital general cardiology clinic. This may be explained in part by the lack of a patient database to record treatment contraindications and to alert clinicians to possible gaps in patient therapy.
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Keywords: heart failure; implantable cardioverter–defibrillator; sudden cardiac death

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-10-01

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