Prognosis and therapy approaches of cardiac cachexia

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Purpose of review

This review focuses on the prognostic implications and therapeutic approaches in cardiac cachexia – a syndrome that has been recognized for a long time, although it has only received increased attention lately.

Recent findings

Cardiac cachexia is a common and serious complication of chronic heart failure and associated with very poor prognosis, yet is often recognized by the clinicians only at late stage. Approximately 15% of heart failure patients will develop cardiac cachexia, defined by a 6% non-edematous, non-voluntary weight loss over a period of 6 months. Several studies have demonstrated that cardiac cachexia is a multi-factorial disease, which involves increased neurohormonal activity and immune abnormalities, resulting in hormonal and metabolic catabolic/anabolic imbalance of the body, leading to the loss of fat and lean mass and ultimately death. So far, there are no standardized therapies available for this disease.


Cardiac cachexia in heart failure patients is under-recognized and there is currently no causal therapy available. Several interesting treatment options exist, however, which have emerged recently, including appetite stimulants, hormones and ‘classical’ drugs, such as beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors.

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