298. Guidelines: 2022 AHA/ACC/HFSA Guideline for the Management of Heart Failure – Question #19 with Dr. Clyde Yancy

The following question refers to Section 7.1 of the 2022 AHA/ACC/HFSA Guideline for the Management of Heart Failure.

The question is asked by New York Medical College medical student and CardioNerds Intern Akiva Rosenzveig, answered first by Lahey Hospital and Medical Center internal medicine resident and CardioNerds Academy House Faculty Leader Dr. Ahmed Ghoneem, and then by expert faculty Dr. Clyde Yancy.

Dr. Yancy is Professor of Medicine and Medical Social Sciences, Chief of Cardiology, and Vice Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at Northwestern University, and a member of the ACC/AHA Joint Committee on Clinical Practice Guidelines.

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. M is a 36-year-old G1P1 woman 6 months postpartum who was diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy at the end of her pregnancy. She is presenting for a follow up visit today and notes that while her leg edema has resolved, she continues to have dyspnea when carrying her child up the stairs. She also describes significant difficulty sleeping, though denies orthopnea, and notes she is not participating in hobbies she had previously enjoyed. She is currently prescribed a regimen of sacubitril-valsartan, metoprolol succinate, spironolactone, and empagliflozin.  What are the next best steps?


Screen for depression


Counsel her to follow a strict low sodium diet with goal of < 1.5g Na daily


Recommend exercise therapy and refer to cardiac rehabilitation


A & C



The correct answer is D – both A (screening for depression) and C (referring to cardiac rehabilitation) are appropriate at this time.

Choice A is correct. Depression is a risk factor for poor self-care, rehospitalization, and all-cause mortality among patients with HF. Interventions that focus on improving HF self-care have been reported

to be effective among patients with moderate/severe depression with reductions in hospitalization and mortality risk. Social isolation, frailty, and marginal health literacy have similarly been associated with poor HF self-care and worse outcomes in patients with HF. Therefore, in adults with HF, screening for depression, social isolation, frailty, and low health

literacy as risk factors for poor self-care is reasonable to improve management (Class 2a, LOE B-NR). 

Choice C is correct. In patients with HF, cardiac rehabilitation has a Class 2a recommendation (LOE B-NR) to improve functional capacity, exercise tolerance, and health-related QOL; exercise training (or regular physical activity) for those able to participate has a Class 1 recommendation (LOE A) to improve functional status, exercise performance, and QOL.

Choice B is incorrect. For patients with stage C HF, avoiding excessive sodium intake is reasonable to reduce congestive symptoms (Class 2a, LOE C-LD). However, strict sodium restriction does not have strong supportive data and is not recommended. There are ongoing studies to better understand the impact of sodium restriction on clinical outcomes and quality of life. The AHA currently recommends a reduction of sodium intake to <2300 mg/d for general cardiovascular health promotion; however, there are no trials to support this level of restriction in patients with HF.

Main Takeaway

Depression is a risk factor for poor HF self-care and worse outcomes in patients with heart failure and so it is reasonable to screen for depression in these patients. Exercise therapy and cardiac rehabilitation have been shown to improve outcomes in HF patients. While avoiding excess sodium intake is reasonable in HF patients to reduce congestive symptoms, there is no specific strict sodium level recommended.

Guideline Loc.

Section 7.1

298. Guidelines: 2022 AHA/ACC/HFSA Guideline for the Management of Heart Failure – Question #19 with Dr. Clyde Yancy
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