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disease management, heart failure, nurse-managed clinic, telephone care



  1. Steckler, Anne E. RN
  2. Bishu, Kalkidan MD
  3. Wassif, Heba MD
  4. Sigurdsson, Gardar MD
  5. Wagner, Judy NP
  6. Jaenicke, Connie NP
  7. Vats, Shashank MD
  8. Rector, Thomas PhD
  9. Anand, Inder S. MD, DPhil (Oxon), FRCP


Background: In clinical practice, heart failure (HF) medications are underused and prescribed at lower than recommended doses. Telephone care is an option that could help to titrate HF medication in a timely manner. We describe our experience of a nurse-run, cardiologist- or nurse practitioner-supervised clinic to up-titrate HF medications via telephone.


Methods: Patients with the diagnosis of HF, New York Heart Association classes I to III, were referred to a registered nurse-run, cardiologist-/nurse practitioner-supervised HF medication titration clinic. Clinical and medication data collected at enrollment to the clinic and at 3 to 6 months after optimization of HF medications in patients who did or did not reach the target doses were compared. Effect on left ventricular (LV) function was also evaluated.


Results: There were 79 patients in the evaluation: 64 with HF and LV systolic dysfunction (LVSD) and the remaining 15 with HF and preserved ejection fraction (EF). Seventy-two percent of patients with LVSD were on an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACEI) or angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB), and 61% were on a [beta]-blocker at baseline, and this increased to 98% and 97%, respectively, after optimization. Target doses was achieved in 50% of patients for ACEI or ARB, and in 41% for [beta]-blockers. The median time to optimization was 54 days (interquartile range, 20-97 days). The average number of phone calls at the time of optimization were 5.4 (SD, 3.7), and the average number of clinic visits was 1.9 (SD, 1.3). Reasons for not reaching the target doses included hypotension, hyperkalemia, and renal dysfunction for ACEI and bradycardia for [beta]-blockers. Overall, the EF increased by 10% (SD, 10%) after 6 months, and 35% or greater in 42% of patients whose baseline EF was less than 35%. There were no adverse events related to the dose up-titration.


Conclusion: Telephonic titration of HF medications was feasible and safe and was achieved in 97% patients on ACEI/ARB and [beta]-blockers. Medication titration was associated with significant improvement in LV function, avoiding the need for device therapy in many patients.