Publication Date



BMC Cardiovascular Disorders


BACKGROUND: Older adults with heart failure often experience adverse drug events with high doses of heart failure medications. Recognizing whether a patient is on a high or low dose intensity heart failure medication can be helpful for daily practice, since it could potentially guide the physician on which symptoms to look for, whether from overdosing or underdosing. However, the current guideline does not provide sufficient information about the dose intensity below the target dose. Furthermore, the definition of high or low-intensity heart failure medication is unclear, and there is no consensus.

METHODS: To close the knowledge gap, we conducted a scoping review of the current literature to identify the most frequently used definition of high versus low doses of heart failure medications. We searched Pubmed, Embase, CINAHL, and Cochrane Library using comprehensive search terms that can capture the intensity of heart failure medications.

RESULTS: We reviewed 464 articles, including 144 articles that had information about beta-blockers (BB), 179 articles about angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEi), 75 articles about angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB), 80 articles about diuretics, 37 articles about mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists (MRA), and 33 articles about angiotensin receptor-neprilysin inhibitor (ARNI). For hydralazine with isosorbide dinitrate or ivabradine, we could not identify any eligible articles. We identified 40 medications with most frequently used definitions of dose intensity. Four medications (nadolol, pindolol, cilazapril, and torsemide) did not reach consensus in definitions. Most of the BBs, ACEis, or ARBs used the definition of low being < 50% of the target dose and high being ≥ 50% of the target dose from the guideline. However, for lisinopril and losartan, the most commonly used definitions of high or low were from pivotal clinical trials with a pre-defined definition of high or low.

CONCLUSION: Our comprehensive scoping review studies identified the most frequently used definition of dose intensity for 40 medications but could not identify the definitions for 4 medications. The results of the current scoping review will be helpful for clinicians to have awareness whether the currently prescribed dose is considered high - requiring close monitoring of side effects, or low - requiring more aggressive up-titration.


Humans, Aged, Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists, Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors, Heart Failure, Isosorbide Dinitrate, Adrenergic beta-Antagonists, Stroke Volume



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