American Family Physician, vol. 63, issue 8 (2001) pp. 1593-1598
Hospital admission for congestive heart failure is extremely common and quite expensive, although it is frequently preventable. New drugs and therapies have been reported to reduce admissions, decrease morbidity and mortality, and improve the quality of life for these patients. Patients with an ejection fraction less than 40 percent (decreased systolic function) should be treated with medication to improve symptoms and prevent progression of heart failure. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are a mainstay of treatment in patients who can tolerate them; in patients who cannot take these drugs, angiotensin II receptor blocking agents offer an alternative. Patients with New York Heart Association class II or III heart failure should also receive a beta blocker (metoprolol, carvedilol or bisoprolol). Recent research has shown that treatment with spironolactone improves mortality and hospital readmission rates. An exercise program should also be recommended for all patients with heart failure unless their condition is unstable.
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