The negative prognostic impact of worsening renal function in patients with decompensated heart failure has been widely recognized. As diuretics are thought to contribute to deterioration of kidney function in this setting, attempts have been made to either spare or suppress the diuretic-related pathophysiologic mechanisms involved in this phenomenon. In this regard, extracorporeal ultrafiltration represents a novel therapy for patients with heart failure, lacking the adverse impacts of diuretics on kidney function (e.g. activation of tubuloglomerular feedback). Consequently, besides its other positive clinical outcomes, there has been much hope for ultrafiltration therapy to play a protective role against negative effects of diuretics in patients with decompensated heart failure. However, the potential biological advantage has not been confirmed by clinical studies; currently available data from recent clinical trials have so far failed to demonstrate such expected positive results possibly due to counterbalance of the potential negative effects and other not well-known mechanisms. This paper briefly reviews the relevant pathophysiological mechanisms as well as existing evidence in this area and emphasizes on the need for further studies specifically designed to explore the impact of ultrafiltration on kidney function in patients with decompensated heart failure.
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