Drugs for Congestive cardiac (Heart) Failure (CCF or CHF) PPT/PDF

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Drugs for Congestive cardiac (Heart) Failure

(CCF or CHF)


Definition: Heart failure is a clinical syndrome caused by the
inability of the heart to pump sufficient blood to meet the
metabolic needs of the body.

Causes: Heart failure can result from any disorder that reduces

1. Ventricular filling (diastolic dysfunction)

2. Myocardial contractility (systolic dysfunction).

3. Coronary artery disease and hypertension.


Pathophysiologic mechanisms of heart failure and major sites of
drug action.


Drug therapy for CHF or CCF
A) Relief of congestive/low output symptoms and restoration of

cardiac performance
Inotropic drugs: Digoxin, Dobutamine/ Dopamine,

Diuretics: Furosemide, Thiazides
Vasodilators: Hydralazine, Nitrate, Nitroprusside
ACE inhibitors (Captopril, Enalapril )/AT1 antagonists (Losartan)
β- blockers: Metoprolol, Bisoprolol, Carvedilol, Nabivolol

B) Arrest/reversal of disease progression and prolongation of

ACE inhibitors (Captopril, Enalapril )/AT1 antagonists
β- blockers: Metoprolol, Bisoprolol, Carvedilol
Aldostreone antagonist: Spiranolactone, Eplerenone


Pharmacology of Digoxin


Absorption: Food delays absorption of digoxin tablet.

Distribution: Volume of distribution is 6- 8 L/kg. Digoxin is
concentrated in heart, Skeletal muscle, liver and kidney.

Metabolism: Metabolized in liver. Cumulative drug plasma t1/2 is

40 hrs.

Excretion: It kidney through glomerular filtration.

Dose: Digitalization 1- 1.5mg, oral

Maintenance dose 0.25-0.75 mg, oral


Pharmacology of Digoxin

1. Heart

a) Force of contraction

i) Digoxin gives positive inotropic action in failing heart

ii) Increases velocity of tension development.

iii) Increases capacity to contract more forcefully when subjected to
increased resistance to ejection.

b) Tone

Maximum length of the fiber at a given filling pressure. Decrease end
diastolic size of a failing heart.

c) Heart rate

i) HR is decreased , bradycardia in CCF.

ii) Improved circulation

iii) Restores diminished vagal tone and abolish sympathetic over

iv) Slows down the heart


d) Electrophysiological properties
1) Action potential (AP)

i) The rate of 0 phase depolarization is reduced at AV node and
bundle of His

ii) The slope of phase 4 depolarization increases in the purkenji fibers
iii) The SA and AV node automaticity is reduced at the

therapeutic concentration by vagal action by hyperpolarization to
reduce their phase-4 slope

iv) Toxic dose markedly reduce resting membrane potential of SA nodal

v) Action potential is reduced


2) Effective refractory period (ERP)

i) In atrium ERP is decreased by vagal action and increased by
indirect action.

ii) In AV node and bundle of His ERP is increased by
vagomimetic and antiadrenergic actions.

iii) In ventricle ERP is increased by direct action.

c) Excitability: It increased by low dose and decreased by high

d) Conduction: AV conduction is slowed at therapeutic dose by
decrease in rate of phase 0 depolarization.


e) ECG: At therapeutic doses

Normal ECG ECG after Digitalis

i) Decreases amplitude or inversion of T wave.
ii) Increases P-R interval.
iii) Shortening of Q-T interval
iv) Depression of ST segment due to interference with



Mechanism of action

1. Inhibition of Na+/K+ ATPase results in a small increase in
intracellular sodium. The increased sodium alters the driving
force for sodium-calcium exchange by the exchanger, NCX,
so that less calcium is removed from the cell.

2. The increased intracellular calcium is stored in the
sarcoplasmic reticulum and upon release increases contractile

3. The consequences of Na+/K+ ATPase inhibition are seen in
both the mechanical and the electrical function of the heart.

4. Digitalis also modifies autonomic outflow, and this action
has effects on the electrical properties of the heart.


Mechanism of action


Adverse effects

1.Increased automaticity, caused by intracellular calcium
overload, is the most important manifestation of digitalis

2. Intracellular calcium overload results in delayed after
depolarizations, which may evoke extrasystoles, tachycardia,
or fibrillation in any part of the heart.

3. In the ventricles, the extrasystoles are recognized as premature
ventricular beats (PVBs). When PVBs are coupled to normal
beats in a 1:1 fashion, the rhythm is called bigeminy.


Digitalis toxicity

1. The major signs of digitalis toxicity are arrhythmias, nausea,
vomiting, and diarrhea. Rarely, confusion or hallucinations
and visual aberrations may occur.

2. The treatment of arrhythmias is important because this
manifestation of digitalis toxicity is common and dangerous.

3. Chronic intoxication is an extension of the therapeutic effect
of the drug and is caused by excessive calcium accumulation
in cardiac cells (calcium overload). This overload triggers
abnormal automaticity and the arrhythmias.

4. Severe, acute intoxication caused by suicidal or accidental
extreme overdose results in cardiac depression leading to
cardiac arrest rather than tachycardia or fibrillation.


Treatment of digitalis toxicity includes several steps, as follows.
1.Further dose must be stopped

2. For tachyarrhythmias: Correction of Potassium or Magnesium

3. For ventricular arrhythmias: Antiarrhythmic Drugs eg, lidocaine
or phenytoin.

4. For supraventricular arrhythmias: Propranolol i.v may me given

5. For A-V block and bradycardia: Atropine 0.6-1.2mg i.m;
otherwise cardiac pacing is recommended.

6. Digoxin Antibodies: Digoxin antibodies (Fab fragments;
Digibind) are extremely effective and should always be used if
other therapies appear to be failing.


Drug interaction
1.Quinidine causes a well-documented reduction in digoxin clearance and

can increase the serum digoxin level if digoxin dosage is not adjusted

2.Digitalis toxicity, especially arrhythmogenesis, is increased by
hypokalemia, hypomagnesaemia, and hypocalcaemia.

3. Loop diuretics and thiazides, which are always included in the treatment
of heart failure, may significantly reduce serum potassium and thus
precipitate digitalis toxicity.

4. Digitalis-induced vomiting may deplete serum magnesium and similarly
facilitate toxicity. These ion interactions are important in treating
digitalis toxicity.

DIGOXIN 0.25 mg tab., 0.5mg/2ml inj.
Digitoxin: DIGITOXIN 0.1mg tab


Other Drugs Used in Congestive Cardiac Failure

The other major agents used in heart failure include

I) Diuretics

1. Diuretics are the first-line therapy for both systolic and
diastolic failure and are used in heart failure before digitalis
and other drugs are considered.

2. Furosemide is a very useful agent for immediate reduction of
the pulmonary congestion and severe edema associated with
acute heart failure and for moderate or severe chronic failure.

3. Thiazides such as hydrochlorothiazide are sometimes
sufficient for mild chronic failure.

4. Clinical studies suggest that spironolactone and eplerenone
(aldosterone antagonist diuretics) have significant long-term
benefits and can reduce mortality in chronic failure.


II)Angiotensin Antagonists
1. These agents have been shown to reduce morbidity and

mortality in chronic heart failure.
2. Angiotensin antagonists reduce aldosterone secretion, salt and

water retention, and vascular resistance. They are now
considered, along with diuretics, to be first-line drugs for
chronic heart failure.

3. The angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs, eg. losartan ) appear
to have the same benefits as ACE inhibitors (eg. captopril)

III) Beta1-Adrenoceptor Agonists
1. Dobutamine (β1selective) and dopamine are often useful in

acute failure in which systolic function is markedly depressed.

2. However, they are not appropriate for chronic failure because of
tolerance, lack of oral efficacy, and significant arrhythmogenic


IV) Beta-Adrenoceptor Antagonists

1. Several β- blockers (carvedilol, labetalol, metoprolol) have
been shown in long-term studies to reduce progression of
chronic heart failure.

2. This benefit of β-blockers had long been recognized in
patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy but has now been
shown to occur also in patients without cardiomyopathy.

3. Nebivolol, a newer β-blocker with vasodilator effects, is
investigational in heart failure. Beta blockers are not of value
in acute failure and may be detrimental if systolic dysfunction
is marked.


V) Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors
1. Amrinone and milrinone are the major representatives of

this infrequently used group.

2. These drugs increase cyclic adenosine monophosphate
(cAMP) by inhibiting its breakdown by phosphodiesterase
and cause an increase in cardiac intracellular calcium similar
to that produced by α-adrenoceptor agonists.

3. Phosphodiesterase inhibitors also cause vasodilation, which
may be responsible for a major part of their beneficial effect.

4. At sufficiently high concentrations, these agents may increase
the sensitivity of the contractile protein system to calcium.

5. These agents should not be used in chronic failure because
they have been shown to increase morbidity and mortality.



1. Vasodilator therapy with nitroprusside or nitroglycerin is often
used for acute severe failure with congestion.

2. The use of these vasodilator drugs is based on the reduction in
cardiac size and improved efficiency that can be realized with
proper adjustment of venous return (preload) and reduction of
resistance to ventricular ejection (afterload).

3. Vasodilator therapy can be dramatically effective, especially in
cases in which increased afterload is a major factor in causing the
failure. The natriuretic peptide nesiritide acts chiefly by causing
vasodilation, although it does have natriuretic effects as well. It is
given by IV infusion for acute failure only.

4. Chronic heart failure sometimes responds favorably to oral
vasodilators such as hydralazine or isosorbide dinitrate (or both),
and the combination has been shown to reduce mortality in
African Americans.


Nonpharmacologic Therapy

1. A variety of surgical procedures to remove nonfunctional
regions of damaged myocardium have been attempted with
mixed results.

2. Resynchronization of right and left ventricular contraction by
means of a pacemaker has been beneficial in patients with
long QRS (indicating conduction abnormalities).

3. Patients with coronary artery disease and heart failure may
have improved systolic function after coronary