Falling Cardiovascular Mortality in Heart Failure With Reduced Ejection Fraction and Implications for Clinical Trials.
Rush CJ., Campbell RT., Jhund PS., Connolly EC., Preiss D., Gardner RS., Petrie MC., McMurray JJ.
OBJECTIVES: This study examined the trends in the relative contributions of cardiovascular and noncardiovascular mortality to total mortality according to use of beta-blockers in clinical trials of patients with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HF-REF). BACKGROUND: With the increasingly widespread use of disease-modifying therapies, particularly beta-blockers, in HF-REF, the proportion of patients dying from cardiovascular causes is likely to be decreasing. METHODS: In a systematic review, 2 investigators independently searched online databases to identify clinical trials including >400 patients with chronic heart failure published between 1986 and 2014 and that adjudicated cause of death. Trials were divided into 3 groups on the basis of the proportion of patients treated with a beta-blocker (<33% [low], 33% to 66% [medium], and >66% [high]). Percentages of total deaths adjudicated as cardiovascular or noncardiovascular were calculated by weighted means and weighted standard deviations. Weighted Student t tests were used to compare results between groups. RESULTS: Sixty-six trials met the inclusion criteria with a total of 136,182 patients and 32,140 deaths. There was a sequential increase in the percentage of noncardiovascular deaths with increasing beta-blocker use from 11.4% of all deaths in trials with low beta-blocker use to 19.1% in those with high beta-blocker use (p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: In trials of patients with HF-REF, the proportion of deaths adjudicated as cardiovascular has decreased. Cardiovascular mortality, and not all-cause mortality, should be used as an endpoint for trials of new treatments for HF-REF.