BACKGROUND: National surveys suggest that treatment of heart failure in daily practice differs from guidelines and is characterized by underuse of recommended medications. Accordingly, the Euro Heart Failure Survey was conducted to ascertain how patients hospitalized for heart failure are managed in Europe and if national variations occur in the treatment of this condition. METHODS: The survey screened discharge summaries of 11304 patients over a 6-week period in 115 hospitals from 24 countries belonging to the ESC to study their medical treatment. RESULTS: Diuretics (mainly loop diuretics) were prescribed in 86.9% followed by ACE inhibitors (61.8%), beta-blockers (36.9%), cardiac glycosides (35.7%), nitrates (32.1%), calcium channel blockers (21.2%) and spironolactone (20.5%). 44.6% of the population used four or more different drugs. Only 17.2% were under the combination of diuretic, ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers. Important local variations were found in the rate of prescription of ACE inhibitors and particularly beta-blockers. Daily dosage of ACE inhibitors and particularly of beta-blockers was on average below the recommended target dose. Modelling-analysis of the prescription of treatments indicated that the aetiology of heart failure, age, co-morbid factors and type of hospital ward influenced the rate of prescription. Age <70 years, male gender and ischaemic aetiology were associated with an increased odds ratio for receiving an ACE inhibitor. Prescription of ACE inhibitors was also greater in diabetic patients and in patients with low ejection fraction (<40%) and lower in patients with renal dysfunction. The odds ratio for receiving a beta-blocker was reduced in patients >70 years, in patients with respiratory disease and increased in cardiology wards, in ischaemic heart failure and in male subjects. Prescription of cardiac glycosides was significantly increased in patients with supraventricular tachycardia/atrial fibrillation. Finally, the rate of prescription of antithrombotic agents was increased in the presence of supraventricular arrhythmia, ischaemic heart disease, male subjects but was decreased in patients over 70. CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that the prescription of recommended medications including ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers remains limited and that the daily dosage remains low, particularly for beta-blockers. The survey also identifies several important factors including age, gender, type of hospital ward, co morbid factors which influence the prescription of heart failure medication at discharge.

Type

Journal article

Journal

Eur Heart J

Publication Date

03/2003

Volume

24

Pages

464 - 474

Keywords

Adrenergic beta-Antagonists, Age Factors, Aged, Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors, Aspirin, Calcium Channel Blockers, Cardiac Glycosides, Cardiac Output, Low, Cardiovascular Agents, Europe, Female, Fibrinolytic Agents, Health Surveys, Hospitalization, Humans, Male, Multivariate Analysis, Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors, Quality of Health Care, Spironolactone