Author + information
- Kanu Chatterjee, MB, FRCP, FACC* and
- William W. Parmley, MD, FACC
- ↵*Address for reprints: Kanu Chatterjee, MB, FRCP, Division of Cardiology, 1186-M, University of California, San Francisco, 3rd and Parnassus Avenues, San Francisco, California 94143.
Vasodilator therapy is useful adjunctive therapy in the management of both acute and chronic heart failure. Arteriolar dilators, such as hydralazine, increase cardiac output by decreasing the elevated peripheral vascular resistance that occurs in heart failure. Venodilators, such as nitrates, decrease ventricular filling pressures by redistributing blood so that more is pooled in peripheral veins. Vasodilators that produce both effects (nitro-prusside, prazosin, captopril, for example) are usually helpful in short-term improvement of hemodynamics. Long-term treatment with nonparenteral vasodilators often reduces symptoms and increases exercise tolerance, although there is inconclusive evidence regarding the effects of these agents on mortality. In acute myocardial infarction, intravenous vasodilators frequently improve cardiac performance. Evidence regarding their beneficial effects on infarct size and immediate mortality is encouraging but inconclusive. There is little evidence that they prolong life in patients who survive cardiogenic shock and leave the hospital. Thus, vasodilators can improve hemodynamics and lessen symptoms, but more evidence is needed regarding their long-term effects on survival.
- American College of Cardiology Foundation