266. Guidelines: 2022 AHA/ACC/HFSA Guideline for the Management of Heart Failure – Question #7 with Dr. Robert Mentz

The following question refers to Section 7.3.1 of the 2022 AHA/ACC/HFSA Guideline for the Management of Heart Failure

The question is asked by Palisades Medical Center medicine resident & CardioNerds Intern Dr. Maryam Barkhordarian, answered first by MedStar Washington Hospital Center cardiology hospitalist & CardioNerds Academy Graduate Dr. Luis Calderon, and then by expert faculty Dr. Robert Mentz. 

Dr. Mentz is associate professor of medicine and section chief for Heart Failure at Duke University, a clinical researcher at the Duke Clinical Research Institute, and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Cardiac Failure. Dr. Mentz is a mentor for the CardioNerds Clinical Trials Network as lead principal investigator for PARAGLIDE-HF and is a series mentor for this very 2022 heart failure Decipher the Guidelines Series. For these reasons and many more, he was awarded the Master CardioNerd Award during ACC22. Welcome Dr. Mentz! 

The Decipher the Guidelines: 2022 AHA / ACC / HFSA Guideline for The Management of Heart Failure series was developed by the CardioNerds and created in collaboration with the American Heart Association and the Heart Failure Society of America. It was created by 30 trainees spanning college through advanced fellowship under the leadership of CardioNerds Cofounders Dr. Amit Goyal and Dr. Dan Ambinder, with mentorship from Dr. Anu Lala, Dr. Robert Mentz, and Dr. Nancy Sweitzer. We thank Dr. Judy Bezanson and Dr. Elliott Antman for tremendous guidance.

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

Ms. Valarie Sartan is a 55-year-old woman with a history of HFrEF (EF 35%) and well controlled, non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus who presents to heart failure clinic for routine follow up. She is currently being treated with metoprolol succinate 200mg daily, lisinopril 10mg daily, empagliflozin 10mg daily, and spironolactone 50mg daily. She notes stable dyspnea with moderate exertion, making it difficult to do her yardwork. On exam she is well appearing, and blood pressure is 115/70 mmHg with normal jugular venous pulsations and trace bilateral lower extremity edema. On labs, her potassium is 4.0 mmol/L and creatinine is 0.7 mg/dL with an eGFR > 60 mL/min/1.73m2. Which of the following options would be the most appropriate next step in heart failure therapy? 


Increase lisinopril to 40mg daily 


Increase spironolactone to 100mg daily 


Add sacubitril-valsartan to her regimen 

Discontinue lisinopril and start sacubitril-valsartan in 36 hours 


No change 


The correct answer is D – transitioning from an ACEi to an ARNi is the most appropriate next step in management.  

The renin-angiotensin aldosterone system (RAAS) is upregulated in patients with chronic heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF). Blockade of the RAAS system with ACE inhibitors (ACEi), angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB), or angiotensin receptor neprilysin inhibitors (ARNi) have proven mortality benefit in these patients.  

The PARADIGM-HF trial compared sacubitril-valsartan (an ARNi) with enalapril in symptomatic patients with HFrEF. Patients receiving ARNi incurred a 20% relative risk reduction in the composite primary endpoint of cardiovascular death or heart failure hospitalization. Based on these results, the 2022 heart failure guidelines recommend replacing an ACEi or ARB for an ARNi in patients with chronic symptomatic HFrEF with NYHA class II or III symptoms to further reduce morbidity and mortality (Option D). This is a class I recommendation with level of evidence of B-R and is also of high economic value. Making no changes at this time would be inappropriate (Option E). 

While it would be reasonable to increase the dose of lisinopril to 40mg (Option A), this should be pursued only if ARNi therapy is not tolerated.  

Mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists (MRAs) have a class I (LOE A) recommendation in patients with HFrEF and NYHA class II to IV to reduce morbidity and mortality, provided that eGFR is >30 mL/min/1.73 m2 and serum potassium is <5.0 mEq/L, and there is careful monitoring of potassium, renal function, and diuretic dosing. However, the starting dose of spironolactone (or eplerenone) is 25 mg orally daily, increased to 50 mg daily orally after a month. Higher doses may be appropriate for other indications but are not advocated for HFrEF as the sole indication and so option B is incorrect.  

Guidance on starting an ARNi 

While switching from an ACEi to an ARNi, note that ARNi should not be administered concomitantly with ACEi or within 36 hours of the last dose of an ACEi (Class 3 for Harm, LOE B-R). This recommendation comes largely from studies of omapatrilat—a combination ACEi/neprilysin inhibitor. Patients receiving omapatrilat suffered significantly increased risk of angioedema thought secondary to dual suppression of both ACE and neprilysin leading to high concentrations of bradykinin. The current guidelines therefore recommend a washout period of at least 36 hours between the last ACEi dose and the first ARNi dose. If this patient were being transitioned from an ARB such as valsartan, then the first dose of ARNi could simply be given in lieu of the next anticipated dose of ARB.  

When initiating sacubitril-valsartan, it is important to monitor for signs of hypotension. With this patient’s blood pressure of 115/70 mmHg in clinic, she should have enough blood pressure room to tolerate the new medication; both PARADIGM-HF (ARNi vs ACEi in stable chronic HFrEF) and PIONEER-HF (ARNi vs ACEi in hospitalized patients with ADHF) excluded patients with SBP < 100 mmHg. That said, every patient responds differently, and anticipatory guidance should be given to anybody starting a new drug. In particular, Ms. H.F. should be counseled on symptoms that could reflect low blood pressure, such as lightheadedness or orthostatic syncope, asked to call her provider should she experience anything concerning. Laboratory follow-up should include renal function and potassium levels. ARNis should not be initiated on any patient with a history of angioedema (Class III for Harm, LOE C-LD). While this patient likely does not have this history since she is tolerating and ACEi, it is an important part of any CardioNerd’s checklist when reaching for RAAS inhibitors.  

Main Takeaway 

Patients with symptomatic HFrEF who are tolerating ACEi or ARB therapy should be transitioned to ARNi therapy to further reduce morbidity and mortality. 

Expert Suggestions 

  • Offer tips & tricks for initiating and monitoring ARNis in the outpatient setting.  
  • Discuss PIONEER-HF & initiation in the inpatient setting.  
  • Discuss ACEi & ARB combination therapy. 

Guideline Loc. 

Section 7.3.1  

266. Guidelines 2022 AHAACCHFSA Guideline for the Management of Heart Failure – Question #7 with Dr. Robert Mentz. 
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