Although ultrafiltration (UF) in recent years has become increasingly popular as an alternative to intravenous diuretics for patients with acute decompensated heart failure with acute cardiorenal system (type 1), the first clinical trial to test its value shows that it is inferior to standard drug therapy.
The results of CARRESS-HF (Cardiorenal Rescue Study in Acute Decompensated Heart Failure) were presented at the AHA scientific session in Los Angeles by Bradley Bart and published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study compared UF with standard drug care in 188 patients with acute decompensated heart failure, worsening renal function, and persistent congestion.
UF was inferior to standard pharmacologic therapy as assessed by the primary endpoint of the trial, which was the bivariate change in serum cretinine and weight measured at 96 hours. Weight loss was similar between the groups (5.5 kg in the drug treatment group and 5.7 kg in the UF group ((p=0.58) but creatinine was significantly higher in the UF group:
- -0.04 mg/dl in the drug group versus +0.23 mg/dl in the UF group (p=0.003)
At 60 days there was no difference in the rate of death or rehospitalization between the groups, but a serious safety signal emerged as more UF patients had a serious adverse event (57% versus 72%, p=0.03).
The authors concluded:
Given the high cost and complexity of ultrafiltration, the use of this technique as performed in the current study does not seem justified for patients hospitalized for acute decompensated heart failure, worsened renal function, and persistent congestion.
In an accompanying editorial. W.H. Wilson Tang writes that “it is difficult to argue that ultrafiltration provides ‘diuretic sparing’ benefits in patients with acute cardiorenal syndrome when a well-managed pharmacologic approach provided equivalent clinical outcomes with fewer serious adverse effects.” He left hope that “a slower but steady ultrafiltration rate” might yet prove beneficial. Further, it is possible that aggressive therapy in order to reduce length of stay “may actually result in an increased incidence of the acute cardiorenal syndrome and cause unwanted consequences. Perhaps slow and steady may ultimately win the race after all.”
Click here to read the AHA press release…