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adrenergic [beta]-antagonist, digoxin, elevated heart rate, heart failure, ivabradine



  1. Prasun, Marilyn A. PhD
  2. Albert, Nancy M. PhD


Background: Heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) is a progressive, chronic, and burdensome cardiovascular condition. It is associated with limiting symptoms, such as dyspnea and fatigue; a decline in functional capacity; and premature mortality and hospitalization. In heart failure (HF) management, heart rate is commonly assessed yet frequently overlooked as a modifiable risk factor and a predictor of mortality. An elevated heart rate increases myocardial demand and decreases diastolic filling time. Hospitalized patients with HFrEF who have a heart rate greater than 70 beats per minute at discharge were found to have lower survival rates.


Purpose: The aims of this study were to review the association between heart rate and clinical outcome in patients with HF and discuss the contribution of heart rate to HFrEF pathophysiology. Medications currently used to modulate heart rate in patients with HF are also reviewed.


Conclusions: In patients with HFrEF, an elevated heart rate contributes to HF progression, and it is both a prognostic and modifiable risk factor. Medications such as an evidence-based [beta]-blockers, digoxin, and ivabradine are recommended for modulation of heart rate in patients with HFrEF.


Clinical Implications: Nurses play a pivotal role in managing HFrEF and must understand current evidence of the pathophysiology of elevated heart rate, risks, and management strategies. Early recognition of elevated heart rate and application of guideline-directed pharmacologic treatment for patients with HFrEF and an elevated heart rate remains key to improving patient outcomes.