249. CardioNerds Rounds: Challenging Cases – HFpEF Diagnosis and Management with Dr. Jane Wilcox

It’s another session of CardioNerds Rounds! In these rounds, Dr. Loie Farina (Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Fellow at Northwestern University) joins Dr. Jane Wilcox (Chief of the Section of Heart Failure Treatment and Recovery at Northwestern University) to discuss the nuances of HFpEF diagnosis and management. Dr. Wilcox is also the Associate Director of the T1 Center for Cardiovascular Therapeutics in the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and Director of the Myocardial Recovery Clinic at Northwestern University. Dr. Wilcox is a prolific researcher, clinician, and thought leader in Heart Failure and we are honored to have her on CardioNerds Rounds! Notes were drafted by Dr. Karan Desai. Audio editing by CardioNerds Academy Intern, student doctor Akiva Rosenzveig.

Enjoy this Circulation 2022 Paths to Discovery article to learn about the CardioNerds story, mission, and values.

This episode is supported with unrestricted funding from Zoll LifeVest. A special thank you to Mitzy Applegate and Ivan Chevere for their production skills that help make CardioNerds Rounds such an amazing success. All CardioNerds content is planned, produced, and reviewed solely by CardioNerds. Case details are altered to protect patient health information. CardioNerds Rounds is co-chaired by Dr. Karan Desai and Dr. Natalie Stokes

Speaker disclosures: None

Challenging Cases – Atrial Fibrillation with Dr. Hugh Calkins

Show notes – HFpEF Diagnosis and Management

Case #1 Synopsis:

A woman in her 80s with a history of HFpEF presented with worsening dyspnea on exertion over the course of a year but significantly worsening over the past two months. Her other history includes prior breast cancer with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, permanent atrial fibrillation with AV node ablation and CRT-P, and CKD Stage III. She presented for an outpatient RHC with exercise to further characterize her HFpEF. Her echo showed normal LV size, no LVH, LVEF of 50%, decreased RV systolic function, severe left atrial enlargement, significantly elevated E/e’ and mild MR. Right heart catheterization showed moderately elevated bi-ventricular filling pressures at rest but with passive leg raise and Stage 1 exercise the wedge pressure rose significantly. We were asked to comment on management.

Case #1 Takeaways

  1. Amongst the things that were discussed were the role of specific therapies in symptomatic patients with HFpEF. In patients with HFpEF and documented congestion, they will require diuretic therapy for symptomatic relief. But in addition to diuretic therapy, we discussed starting HFpEF-specific therapies. Amongst, those specific therapies mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist (MRA) and sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor.
  2. In multiple trials that have included patients with HFPEF, SGLT2i have reduced the risk of hospitalization. This includes the EMPEROR-PRESERVED Trial (see the CardioNerds Journal Club discussion on the trial) in which nearly 6000 patients with NYHA Class II-IV symptoms, EF > 40% and elevated NT-proBNP with a prior HF hospitalization within the past 12 months were randomized to Empagliflozin or placebo. The primary outcome – death from CV causes or hospitalization for Heart Failure – was significantly lower in the SGLT2i arm (13.8% vs 17.1%, 95% CI 0.69-0.90, P <0.001).
  3. In regards to MRA, an important trial was the TOPCAT trial which randomized patients with symptomatic HF and LVEF > 45% to receive either spironolactone or placebo. The primary endpoint (death from CV cause, aborted cardiac arrest, or hospitalization for HF) was not statistically different between treatment arms. Of note, however, there were concerns for regional differences which is outlined well in this NEJM Evidence piece.

Case #2 Synopsis:

A woman in her 70s with history of hypertension, obesity, and COPD presented to the office for an evaluation of dyspnea. She had noted two years of dyspnea with moderate exercise and had developed lower extremity swelling. She had an echocardiogram that showed normal LV size and function, no LVH, global longitudinal strain at -21% (normal), grade 1 diastolic dysfunction and mild left atrial enlargement. Amongst the initial questions we were asked was how would we approach the diagnostic evaluation of her dyspnea?

Case #2 Takeaways

  1. There were several things we covered with Dr. Wilcox regarding this patient. One of the things we discussed was whether the patient has HFpEF and then concomitantly, if we suspect and confirm HFpEF, attempting to elucidate an etiology for the patient’s HFpEF.
  2. There are diagnostic scores, such as the H2FPEF score that can estimate the probability of HFpEF versus a non-cardiac cause of a patient’s symptoms. There are limitations to the scoring systems – including echocardiographic parameters that may not be available at point of care or prone to error – but it can refine a clinician’s pre-test probability for HFpEF.
  3. Amongst other testing, an important note is that coronary artery disease is common in patients with HFpEF and may be a potentially treatable and reversible cause of HFpEF. Thus, evaluation for ischemia is recommended and given a Class IIa recommendation in the 2022 ACC/AHA/HFSA Guideline for the Management of Heart Failure.

References – HFpEF Diagnosis and Management

  1. Anker SD, Butler J, Filippatos G et al; EMPEROR-Preserved Trial Investigators. Empagliflozin in Heart Failure with a Preserved Ejection Fraction. N Engl J Med. 2021 Oct 14;385(16):1451-1461. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2107038. Epub 2021 Aug 27. PMID: 34449189.
  2. Heidenreich P, Bozkurt B, Aguilar D, et al. 2022 AHA/ACC/HFSA Guideline for the Management of Heart Failure. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2022 May, 79 (17) e263–e421.
  3. Pfeffer MA, Claggett B, Assmann SF et al. Regional variation in patients and outcomes in the Treatment of Preserved Cardiac Function Heart Failure with an Aldosterone Antagonist (TOPCAT) trial. Circulation2015; 131:34-42.25406305
  4. Pitt B, Pfeffer MA, Assmann SF, et al. Spironolactone for heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. N Engl J Med2014; 370:1383-1392. 10.1056/NEJMoa1313731 24716680.
  5. Reddy YNV, Carter RE, Obokata M et al. A Simple, Evidence-Based Approach to Help Guide Diagnosis of Heart Failure With Preserved Ejection Fraction. Circulation. 2018 Aug 28;138(9):861-870. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.034646. PMID: 29792299; PMCID: PMC6202181.

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