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The heart function assessment registry trial in Saudi Arabia (HEARTS) is the first multicentre national quality improvement initiative in the Arab population to study the clinical features, management, and outcomes of inpatients admitted with acute heart failure (AHF) and outpatients with high-risk chronic heart failure (HCHF).We conducted a prospective pilot phase for the registry that included consecutive patients with AHF and HCHF in five tertiary care hospitals in Saudi Arabia between October 2009 and December 2010. The study enrolled 1090 patients, 722 (66.2%) of whom were admitted with AHF and 368 (33.8%) had HCHF. The mean age ± SD of AHF patients was 60.6 ± 15.3 years; 65.2% were men, 55.3% were de novo heart failure, 60.7% had diabetes mellitus, 72.5% had moderate or severe left ventricular (LV) systolic dysfunction, and 51.5% had coronary artery disease as the main aetiology. More than 80% of AHF and HCHF patients were treated with beta-blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors/angiotensin receptor blockers. Patients with HCHF had a similar clinical profile, but only one-third had implantable cardioverter defibrillators. In-hospital mortality was 5.3% for AHF patients and 7.5% at 30 days after hospital discharge.Heart failure patients in Saudi Arabia present at a relatively younger age, have a much higher rate of diabetes mellitus, and predominantly have LV systolic dysfunction, which is mainly ischaemic in origin, compared with patients in developed countries. The preliminary results of the study show potential targets for improvement in care.