Background: Although heart failure with a preserved or normal ejection fraction (HFNEF or diastolic heart failure) is common, treatment outcomes on quality of life and cardiac function are lacking. The effect of renin–angiotensin blockade by irbesartan or ramipril in combination with diuretics on quality of life (QoL), regional and global systolic and diastolic function was assessed in HFNEF patients.
Methods: 150 patients with HFNEF (LVEF >45%) were randomised to (1) diuretics alone, (2) diuretics plus irbesartan, or (3) diuretics plus ramipril. QoL, 6-minute walk test (6MWT) and Doppler echocardiography were performed at baseline, 12, 24 and 52 weeks.
Results: The QoL score improved similarly in all three groups by 52 weeks (−46%, 51%, and 50% respectively, all p<0.01), although 6MWT increased only slightly (average +3–6%). Recurrent hospitalisation rates were equal in all groups (10–12% in 1 year). At 1 year, LV dimensions or LVEF had not changed in any group, though both systolic and diastolic blood pressures were lowered in all three groups from 4 weeks onwards. At baseline both mean peak systolic (Sm) and early diastolic (Em) mitral annulus velocities were reduced, and increased slightly in the diuretic plus irbesartan (Sm 4.5 (SEM 0.17) to 4.9 (SEM 0.16) cm/sec; Em 3.8 (SEM 0.25) to 4.2 (SEM 0.25) cm/sec) and ramipril (Sm 4.5 (SEM 0.24) to 4.9 (SEM 0.20) cm/sec; Em 3.3 (SEM 0.25) to 4.04 (SEM 0.32) cm/sec) groups (both p<0.05). NT-pro-BNP levels were raised at baseline (595 (SD 905) pg/ml; range 5–4748) and fell in the irbesartan (−124 (SD 302) pg/ml, p = 0.01) and ramipril (−173 (SD 415) pg/ml, p = 0.03) groups only.
Conclusions: In this typically elderly group of HF patients with normal LVEF, diuretic therapy significantly improved symptoms and neither irbesartan nor ramipril had a significant additional effect. However, diuretics in combination with irbesartan or ramipril marginally improved LV systolic and diastolic longitudinal LV function, and lowered NT-proBNP over 1 year.
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Competing interests: None.
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