Signs and symptoms of congestion are the most common cause for hospitalization for heart failure (HHF). The clinical course and prognostic value of congestion during HHF has not been systemically characterized.Methods and results
A post hoc analysis was performed of the placebo group (n = 2061) of the EVEREST trial, which enrolled patients within 48 h of admission (median ∼24 h) for worsening HF with an EF ≤40% and two or more signs or symptoms of fluid overload [dyspnoea, oedema, or jugular venous distension (JVD)] for a median follow-up of 9.9 months. Clinician-investigators assessed patients daily for dyspnoea, orthopnoea, fatigue, rales, pedal oedema, and JVD and rated signs and symptoms on a standardized 4-point scale ranging from 0 to 3. A modified composite congestion score (CCS) was calculated by summing the individual scores for orthopnoea, JVD, and pedal oedema. Endpoints were HHF, all-cause mortality (ACM), and ACM + HHF. Multivariable Cox regression models were used to evaluate the risk of CCS at discharge on outcomes at 30 days and for the entire follow-up period. The mean CCS obtained after initial therapy decreased from the mean ± SD of 4.07 ± 1.84 and the median (25th, 75th) of 4 (3, 5) at baseline to 1.11 ± 1.42 and 1 (0, 2) at discharge. At discharge, nearly three-quarters of study participants had a CCS of 0 or 1 and fewer than 10% of patients had a CCS >3. B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) and amino terminal-proBNP, respectively, decreased from 734 (313, 1523) pg/mL and 4857 (2251, 9642) pg/mL at baseline to 477 (199, 1079) pg/mL, and 2834 (1218, 6075) pg/mL at discharge/Day 7. A CCS at discharge was associated with increased risk (HR/point CCS, 95% CI) for a subset of endpoints at 30 days (HHF: 1.06, 0.95–1.19; ACM: 1.34, 1.14–1.58; and ACM + HHF: 1.13, 1.03–1.25) and all outcomes for the overall study period (HHF: 1.07, 1.01–1.14; ACM: 1.16, 1.09–1.24; and ACM + HHF 1.11, 1.06–1.17). Patients with a CCS of 0 at discharge experienced HHF of 26.2% and ACM of 19.1% during the follow-up.Conclusion
Among patients admitted for worsening signs and symptoms of HF and reduced EF, congestion improves substantially during hospitalization in response to standard therapy alone. However, patients with absent or minimal resting signs and symptoms at discharge still experienced a high mortality and readmission rate.