278. Guidelines: 2022 AHA/ACC/HFSA Guideline for the Management of Heart Failure – Question #13 with Dr. Anu Lala

The following question refers to Section 9.1 of the 2022 AHA/ACC/HFSA Guideline for the Management of Heart Failure

The question is asked by Keck School of Medicine USC medical student & CardioNerds Intern Hirsh Elhence, answered first by Duke University cardiology fellow and CardioNerds FIT Ambassador Dr. Aman Kansal, and then by expert faculty Dr. Anu Lala.

Dr. Lala is an advanced heart failure and transplant cardiologist, associate professor of medicine and population health science and policy, Director of Heart Failure Research, and Program Director for the Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant fellowship training program at Mount Sinai. Dr. Lala is deputy editor for the Journal of Cardiac Failure. Dr. Lala has been a champion and role model for CardioNerds. She has been a PI mentor for the CardioNerds Clinical Trials Network and continues to serve in the program’s leadership. She is also a faculty mentor for this very 2022 heart failure decipher the guidelines series.

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.

Mrs. Hart is a 63-year-old woman with a history of non-ischemic cardiomyopathy and heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (LVEF 20-25%) presenting with 5 days of worsening dyspnea and orthopnea. She takes carvedilol 12.5mg BID, sacubitril-valsartan 24-46mg BID, empagliflozin 10mg daily, and furosemide 40mg daily and reports that she has been able to take all her medications. What is the initial management for Mrs. H?


Assess her degree of congestion and hypoperfusion


Search for precipitating factors


Evaluate her overall trajectory


All of the above


None of the above


The correct answer is D – all of the above.


Choice A is correct because in patients hospitalized with heart failure, the severity of congestion and adequacy of perfusion should be assessed to guide triage and initial therapy (Class 1, LOE C-LD). Congestion can be assessed by using the clinical exam to gauge right and left-sided filling pressures (e.g., elevated JVP, S3, edema) which are usually proportional in decompensation of chronic HF with low EF; however, up to 1 in 4 patients have a mismatch between right- and left-sided filling pressures. Hypoperfusion can be suspected from narrow pulse pressure and cool extremities, intolerance to neurohormonal antagonists, worsening renal function, altered mental status, and/or an elevated serum lactate. For more on the bedside evaluation of heart failure, enjoy Episode #142 – The Role of the Clinical Examination in Patients With Heart Failure – with Dr. Mark Drazner.


Choice B, searching for precipitating factors is also correct. In patients hospitalized with HF, the common precipitating factors and the overall patient trajectory should be assessed to guide appropriate therapy (Class 1, LOE C-LD). Common precipitating factors include ischemic and nonischemic causes, such as acute coronary syndromes, atrial fibrillation and other arrhythmias, uncontrolled HTN, other cardiac disease (e.g., endocarditis), acute infections, anemia, thyroid dysfunction, non-adherence to medications or new medications. When initial clinical assessment does not suggest congestion or hypoperfusion, symptoms of HF may be a result of transient ischemia, arrhythmias, or noncardiac disease such as chronic pulmonary disease or pneumonia, and more focused assessments may be warranted.


Lastly, Choice C, evaluation of a patient’s trajectory is correct as hospitalization for HF is a sentinel event that signals worse prognosis and provides key opportunities to redirect the disease trajectory – including establishment of optimal volume status before and after discharge. During the HF hospitalization, the approach to management should include and address precipitating factors, comorbidities, and previous limitations to ongoing disease management related to social determinants of health. The disease trajectory for patients hospitalized with reduced EF is markedly improved by optimization of recommended medical therapies, which should be initiated or increased toward target doses once the efficacy of diuresis has been shown.

Main Takeaway

In summary, when a patient is admitted for acute decompensated heart failure, initial management involves assessing the patient’s degree of congestion and hypoperfusion, identifying and addressing precipitating factors, and evaluating overall patient trajectory to guide appropriate triage and therapy.

Guideline Loc.

Section 9.1, Table 21

278. Guidelines: 2022 AHA/ACC/HFSA Guideline for the Management of Heart Failure – Question #13 with Dr. Anu Lala
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