Effects of ACE Inhibitor Therapy on Quality of Life in Patients with Heart Failure

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In addition to effects on survival, hemodynamics, and exercise capacity, quality of life has become an important outcome of therapy for chronic heart failure. A large clinical trial of the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor enalapril reports that certain domains of health-related quality of life (HRQL) have a long-term impact on survival in patients with reduced left ventricular systolic function, regardless of symptoms of heart failure at diagnosis. Results of large-scale clinical trials that measured the impact of several different ACE inhibitors on quality of life in these patients suggest benefits of the drugs, but data are confounded by a definite placebo effect. Studies are further confounded by high noncompletion rates for sicker patients, particularly beyond 1 year. Because measurement tools varied and different quality of life domains were evaluated, direct comparison of studies is problematic. Typically, HRQL measurements in patients receiving ACE inhibitors showed small improvement or did not differ significantly from those in placebo-treated patients with long-term follow-up, although shortterm trials (< 6 mo) showed some benefit. Moreover, multicenter trials such as SOLVD, V-HeFT II, and ramipril studies indicated that ACE inhibitors do not compromise and may actually improve certain components of quality of life in a large number of patients with chronic heart failure secondary to reduced left ventricular systolic function while having favorable effects on survival, exercise capacity, hemodynamics, or symptoms.

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