advanced heart failure

The patient perspective: Quality of life in advanced heart failure with frequent hospitalisations

End of life is an unfortunate but inevitable phase of the heart failure patients’ journey. It is often preceded by a stage in the progression of heart failure defined as advanced heart failure, and characterised by poor quality of life and frequent hospitalisations.

In clinical practice, the efficacy of treatments for advanced heart failure is often assessed by parameters such as clinical status, haemodynamics, neurohormonal status, and echo/MRI indices. From the patients’ perspective, however, quality-of-life-related parameters, such as functional capacity, exercise performance, psychological status, and frequency of re-hospitalisations, are more significant.

The effects of therapies and interventions on these parameters are, however, underrepresented in clinical trials targeted to assess advanced heart failure treatment efficacy, and data are overall scarce. This is possibly due to a non-universal definition of the quality-of-life-related endpoints, and to the difficult standardisation of the data collection.

These uncertainties also lead to difficulties in handling trade-off decisions between quality of life and survival by patients, families and healthcare providers. A panel of 34 experts in the field of cardiology and intensive cardiac care from 21 countries around the world convened for reviewing the existing data on quality-of-life in patients with advanced heart failure, discussing and reaching a consensus on the validity and significance of quality-of-life assessment methods. Gaps in routine care and research, which should be addressed, were identified. Finally, published data on the effects of current i.v. vasoactive therapies such as inotropes, inodilators, and vasodilators on quality-of-life in advanced heart failure patients were analysed.

Atrial Fibrillation: Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, and Clinical Outcomes

The past 3 decades have been characterized by an exponential growth in knowledge and advances in the clinical treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF). It is now known that AF genesis requires a vulnerable atrial substrate and that the formation and composition of this substrate may vary depending on comorbid conditions, genetics, sex, and other factors.

Population-based studies have identified numerous factors that modify the atrial substrate and increase AF susceptibility. To date, genetic studies have reported 17 independent signals for AF at 14 genomic regions. Studies have established that advanced age, male sex, and European ancestry are prominent AF risk factors. Other modifiable risk factors include sedentary lifestyle, smoking, obesity, diabetes mellitus, obstructive sleep apnea, and elevated blood pressure predispose to AF, and each factor has been shown to induce structural and electric remodeling of the atria.

Both heart failure and myocardial infarction increase risk of AF and vice versa creating a feed-forward loop that increases mortality. Other cardiovascular outcomes attributed to AF, including stroke and thromboembolism, are well established, and epidemiology studies have championed therapeutics that mitigate these adverse outcomes. However, the role of anticoagulation for preventing dementia attributed to AF is less established. Our review is a comprehensive examination of the epidemiological data associating unmodifiable and modifiable risk factors for AF and of the pathophysiological evidence supporting the mechanistic link between each risk factor and AF genesis. Our review also critically examines the epidemiological data on clinical outcomes attributed to AF and summarizes current evidence linking each outcome with AF.

Venoarterial Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation for Cardiogenic Shock and Cardiac Arrest

Venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VA-ECMO)-also referred to as extracorporeal life support-is a form of temporary mechanical circulatory support and simultaneous extracorporeal gas exchange. The initiation of VA-ECMO has emerged as a salvage intervention in patients with cardiogenic shock, even cardiac arrest refractory to standard therapies.

Analogous to veno-venous ECMO for acute respiratory failure, VA-ECMO provides circulatory support and allows time for other treatments to promote recovery or may be a bridge to a more durable mechanical solution in the setting of acute or acute on chronic cardiopulmonary failure. In this review, we provide a brief overview of VA-ECMO, the attendant physiological considerations of peripheral VA-ECMO, and its complications, namely that of left ventricular distention, bleeding, heightened systemic inflammatory response syndrome, thrombosis and thromboembolism, and extremity ischemia or necrosis.

 

Sources

Nieminen MS, Dickstein K, Fonseca C, Serrano JM, Parissis J, Fedele F, Wikström G, Agostoni P, Atar S, Baholli L, Brito D, Colet JC, Édes I, Gómez Mesa JE, Gorjup V, Garza EH, González Juanatey JR, Karanovic N, Karavidas A, Katsytadze I, Kivikko M, Matskeplishvili S, Merkely B, Morandi F, Novoa A, Oliva F, Ostadal P, Pereira-Barretto A, Pollesello P, Rudiger A, Schwinger RH, Wieser M, Yavelov I, Zymliński R. The patient perspective: Quality of life in advanced heart failure with frequent hospitalisations. Int J Cardiol. 2015 Jul 15;191:256-64. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2015.04.235. Epub 2015 May 1. PMID: 25981363.

Staerk L, Sherer JA, Ko D, Benjamin EJ, Helm RH. Atrial Fibrillation: Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, and Clinical Outcomes. Circ Res. 2017 Apr 28;120(9):1501-1517. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.117.309732. PMID: 28450367; PMCID: PMC5500874.

Rao P, Khalpey Z, Smith R, Burkhoff D, Kociol RD. Venoarterial Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation for Cardiogenic Shock and Cardiac Arrest. Circ Heart Fail. 2018 Sep;11(9):e004905. doi: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.118.004905. PMID: 30354364.