Aims: Surveys on heart failure management suggest under-utilization of life-saving evidence-based treatment. Evidence-based medicine and clinical guidelines are based on the results of randomized controlled trials. Therefore, we investigated how patients who fulfilled the enrolment criteria of randomized trials were treated in real life. Methods and results: We selected three large placebo-controlled trials of patients with chronic heart failure, in which ACE-inhibitors (ACE-Is), β-blockers, and spironolactone proved to be safe and effective. The major enrolment criteria of trials were identified and applied to patients enrolled in the Euro Heart Survey on Heart Failure to identify the proportion of patients eligible for treatment and also treated appropriately. Of the 10 701 patients who were enrolled in the Euro Heart Survey on Heart Failure, only a small percentage (13%) would have qualified for participation in at least one of the selected trials. Patients who fulfilled enrolment criteria of the identified trials were more likely to be treated with ACE-Is (83% of SOLVD-eligible patients), β-blockers (54% of MERIT-HF-eligible patients), and aldosterone antagonists (43% of RALES-eligible patients) than trial-ineligible patients. Almost half of SOLVD-eligible patients who were treated with ACE-Is received the target dose as recommended in the guidelines, but only <10% of MERIT-HF eligible patients who were treated with β-blockers received the target dose. Conclusion: ACE-Is are widely utilized but given in lower doses than proven effective in clinical trials. β-Blockers are underused and given in lower doses to patients who fulfil the enrolment criteria of relevant landmark trials.

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European Heart Journal
Department of Cardiology

Lenzen, M., Boersma, E., Scholte op Reimer, W., Balk, A., Komajda, M., Swedberg, K., … Cleland, J. (2005). Under-utilization of evidence-based drug treatment in patients with heart failure is only partially explained by dissimilarity to patients enrolled in landmark trials: A report from the Euro Heart Survey on Heart Failure. European Heart Journal (Vol. 26, pp. 2706–2713). doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehi499