Official reprint from UpToDate®
www.uptodate.com ©2017 UpToDate, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All Rights Reserved.

Overview of the therapy of heart failure with reduced ejection fraction

Wilson S Colucci, MD
Section Editor
Stephen S Gottlieb, MD
Deputy Editor
Susan B Yeon, MD, JD, FACC


Heart failure (HF) is a common clinical syndrome resulting from any structural or functional cardiac disorder that impairs the ability of the ventricle to fill with or eject blood. HF may be caused by disease of the myocardium, pericardium, endocardium, heart valves, vessels, or by metabolic disorders [1]. HF due to left ventricular dysfunction is categorized according to left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) into HF with reduced ejection fraction (with LVEF ≤40 percent, known as HFrEF; also referred to as systolic HF) and HF with preserved ejection fraction (with LVEF>40 percent; known as HFpEF; also referred to as diastolic HF).

An overview of the management of chronic HFrEF will be presented here [1-3]. The management of acute HF, drugs that should be avoided or used with caution in patients with HF, the management of refractory HF, and therapy of HFpEF (diastolic HF) are discussed separately. (See "Drugs that should be avoided or used with caution in patients with heart failure" and "Management of refractory heart failure with reduced ejection fraction" and "Treatment and prognosis of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction" and "Treatment of acute decompensated heart failure: General considerations" and "Treatment of acute decompensated heart failure: Components of therapy".)


Goals of therapy — The goals of therapy of heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) are to reduce morbidity (ie, reducing symptoms, improving health-related quality of life and functional status, decreasing the rate of hospitalization), and to reduce mortality.

Major society guidelines — Several major societies and organizations have published guidelines for the treatment of HF. These include the 2013 American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association guideline with 2016 focused update [1,2], the Canadian Cardiovascular Society guidelines [4], the 2016 European Society of Cardiology guidelines [3], the 2010 Heart Failure Society of America guidelines [5], and the 2010 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence chronic HF guideline [6].

With few exceptions, these societies make similar recommendations regarding the treatment of HFrEF. Our approach is in broad agreement with these guidelines.

To continue reading this article, you must log in with your personal, hospital, or group practice subscription. For more information on subscription options, click below on the option that best describes you:

Subscribers log in here

Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jun 13, 2017.
The content on the UpToDate website is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your own physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any medical questions or conditions. The use of this website is governed by the UpToDate Terms of Use ©2017 UpToDate, Inc.
  1. Yancy CW, Jessup M, Bozkurt B, et al. 2013 ACCF/AHA guideline for the management of heart failure: executive summary: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on practice guidelines. Circulation 2013; 128:1810.
  2. WRITING COMMITTEE MEMBERS, Yancy CW, Jessup M, et al. 2016 ACC/AHA/HFSA Focused Update on New Pharmacological Therapy for Heart Failure: An Update of the 2013 ACCF/AHA Guideline for the Management of Heart Failure: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines and the Heart Failure Society of America. Circulation 2016; 134:e282.
  3. Ponikowski P, Voors AA, Anker SD, et al. 2016 ESC Guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic heart failure: The Task Force for the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic heart failure of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC)Developed with the special contribution of the Heart Failure Association (HFA) of the ESC. Eur Heart J 2016; 37:2129.
  4. http://www.ccs.ca/index.php/en/resources/heart-failure-compendium (Accessed on August 24, 2015).
  5. Heart Failure Society of America, Lindenfeld J, Albert NM, et al. HFSA 2010 Comprehensive Heart Failure Practice Guideline. J Card Fail 2010; 16:e1.
  6. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg108 (Accessed on August 25, 2015).
  7. Cohn JN, Ziesche S, Smith R, et al. Effect of the calcium antagonist felodipine as supplementary vasodilator therapy in patients with chronic heart failure treated with enalapril: V-HeFT III. Vasodilator-Heart Failure Trial (V-HeFT) Study Group. Circulation 1997; 96:856.
  8. Marwick TH. The viable myocardium: epidemiology, detection, and clinical implications. Lancet 1998; 351:815.
  9. Allman KC, Shaw LJ, Hachamovitch R, Udelson JE. Myocardial viability testing and impact of revascularization on prognosis in patients with coronary artery disease and left ventricular dysfunction: a meta-analysis. J Am Coll Cardiol 2002; 39:1151.
  10. Bortman G, Sellanes M, Odell DS, et al. Discrepancy between pre- and post-transplant diagnosis of end-stage dilated cardiomyopathy. Am J Cardiol 1994; 74:921.
  11. Jessup M, Brozena S. Heart failure. N Engl J Med 2003; 348:2007.
  12. Koelling TM, Aaronson KD, Cody RJ, et al. Prognostic significance of mitral regurgitation and tricuspid regurgitation in patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction. Am Heart J 2002; 144:524.