Am J Cardiol. 2021 Jun 16:S0002-9149(21)00432-X. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2021.04.044. Online ahead of print.
Data from previous heart failure (HF) trials suggest that patients with mild symptoms (NYHA II) actually have a poor clinical outcome. However, these studies did not assess clinical stability and rarely included patients in NYHA I. We sought to determine the incidence of short-term clinical progression in supposedly stable HF patients in NYHA I. In addition, we aimed to investigate the predictive value of widely available electrocardiographic and echocardiographic parameters for short-term disease progression. This is a retrospective study including 153 consecutive patients with HF with reduced and mid-range ejection fraction (HFrEF: LVEF<40%; HFmrEF: LVEF 40-49%) in NYHA I with no history of decompensation within the previous 6 months. All patients underwent comprehensive baseline echocardiographic and electrocardiographic assessment. The primary endpoint was the composite of cardiovascular death, hospitalization and need for intensification of HF treatment within a 12 month follow-up period. The cumulative incidence of HF progression was 17.8%, with a median time to event of 193 days. Death and hospitalization due to HF accounted for three-quarters of the events. QRS duration ≥120ms and mitral regurgitation grade >1 showed to be significant predictors of HF progression (HR: 8.92, p<0.001; and HR: 4.10, p<0.001, respectively). Patients without these risk factors had a low incidence of clinical events (3.8%). In conclusion, almost one in five supposedly stable HF patients in NYHA I experience clinical progression in short-term follow-up. Simple electrocardiographic and echocardiographic predictors may be useful for risk stratification and could help to improve individual HF patient management and outcomes.