Herz. 2023 Jan 25. doi: 10.1007/s00059-022-05159-x. Online ahead of print.
Acute heart failure is a clinical syndrome resulting from elevated intracardiac filling pressures and a systemic venous congestion. In general, patients can present acutely without a history of structural cardiac disease (de novo heart failure) or with acute worsening of a pre-existing dysfunction of the right or left ventricle. The patient population is overall very inhomogeneous and as a result there is also a distinct heterogeneity with respect to the underlying cardiac pathology that leads to the acute presentation. Ultimately, ventricular dysfunction leads to increased preload and afterload resulting in decreased perfusion and retrograde congestion. The forward failure (hypoperfusion) and backwards failure (systemic congestion) can lead to impaired end organ function or even organ failure resulting in cardiogenic shock, in which sufficient organ and tissue perfusion is no longer possible. Consequently, therapeutic strategies currently focus on rectification of the underlying cardiac dysfunction, reduction of volume overload (decongestion) and hemodynamic stabilization with drugs supporting the circulation in the case of a hypoperfusion syndrome. Despite numerous new therapeutic strategies within the last two decades, the empirical data based on randomized trials is considerably less solid than in chronic heart failure, which is expressed in the almost unchanged 1‑year mortality of approximately 20-30%.