Intravenous Milrinone in Treatment of Advanced Congestive Heart Failure

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Phosphodiesterase inhibitors such as milrinone can relieve symptoms and improve hemodynamics in patients with advanced congestive heart failure. We retrospectively evaluated the hemodynamic and clinical outcomes of long-term combination therapy with intravenous milrinone and oral [beta]-blockers in 65 patients with severe congestive heart failure (New York Heart Association class IV function and ejection fraction <25%) refractory to oral medical therapy. Fifty-one patients successfully began [beta]-blocker therapy while on intravenous milrinone. Oral medical therapy was maximized when possible. The mean duration of milrinone treatment in this combination-treatment group was 269 days (range, 14–1,026 days). Functional class improved from IV to II–III with milrinone therapy. Twenty-four such patients tolerated [beta]-blocker up-titration and were successfully weaned from milrinone. Sixteen patients (31%) died while receiving combination therapy; one died of sudden cardiac death (on treatment day 116); the other 15 died of progressive heart failure or other complications. Hospital admissions during the previous 6 months and admissions within 6 months after milrinone initiation stayed the same. Meanwhile, the total number of hospital days decreased from 450 to 380 (a 15.6% reduction), and the mean length of stay decreased by 1.4 days (a 14.7% reduction).

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