In-hospital Therapy for Heart Failure with Reduced Ejection Fraction in the United States

Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Heart Failure, 2020


This study sought to characterize in-hospital treatment patterns and associated patient outcomes among patients hospitalized for heart failure (HF) in U.S. clinical practice.


Hospitalizations for HF are common and associated with poor patient outcomes. Real-world patterns of in-hospital treatment, including diuretic therapy, in contemporary U.S. practice are unknown.


Using Optum de-identified Electronic Health Record data from 2007 through 2018, patients hospitalized for a primary diagnosis of HF (ejection fraction ≤40%) and who were hemodynamically stable at admission, without concurrent acute coronary syndrome or end-stage renal disease, and treated with intravenous (IV) diuretic agents within 48 h of admission were identified. Patients were categorized into 1 of 4 mutually exclusive hierarchical treatment groups defined by complexity of treatment during hospitalization (intensified treatment with mechanical support or IV vasoactive therapy, IV diuretic therapy reinitiated after discontinuation for ≥1 day without intensified treatment, IV diuretic dose increase/combination diuretic treatment without intensified treatment or IV diuretic reinitiation, or uncomplicated).


Of 22,677 patients hospitalized for HF with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), 66% had uncomplicated hospitalizations without escalation of treatment beyond initial IV diuretic therapy. Among 7,809 remaining patients, the highest level of therapy received was IV diuretic dose increase/combination diuretic treatment in 25%, IV diuretic reinitiation in 36%, and intensified therapy in 39%. Overall, 19% of all patients had reinitiation of IV diuretic agents (26% of such patients had multiple instances), 12% were simultaneously treated with multiple diuretics, and 61% were transitioned to oral diuretic agents before discharge. Compared with uncomplicated treatment, IV diuretic reinitiation and intensified treatment were associated with significantly longer median length of stay (uncomplicated: 4 days; IV diuretic reinitiation: 8 days; intensified: 10 days) and higher rates of in-hospital (uncomplicated: 1.6%; IV diuretic reinitiation: 4.2%; intensified: 13.2%) and 30-day post-discharge mortality (uncomplicated: 5.2%; IV diuretic reinitiation: 9.7%; intensified: 12.7%).


In this contemporary real-world population of U.S. patients hospitalized for HFrEF, one-third of patients had in-hospital treatment escalated beyond initial IV diuretic therapy. These more complex treatment patterns were associated with highly variable patterns of diuretic use, longer hospital lengths of stay, and higher mortality. Standardized and evidence-based approaches are needed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of in-hospital HFrEF care.

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Greene SJ, Triana TS, Ionescu-Ittu R, Burne RM, Guérin A, Borentain M, Kessler PD, Tugcu A, DeSouza MM, Felker GM, Chen L