B-type natriuretic peptide, diuretics, diuretic titration, exercise tolerance, quality of life, norepinephrine



  1. Prasun, Marilyn A. PhD, RN, CNS
  2. Kocheril, Abraham G. MD, FACC, FACP
  3. Klass, Patricia H. PhD
  4. Dunlap, Stephanie H. DO
  5. Piano, Mariann R. PhD, RN


Patients with heart failure (HF) are often instructed to temporarily adjust their diuretic dose. This approach has become routine in some HF management programs; however, no study has specifically examined the effects of a patient-directed flexible diuretic protocol. For the purposes of this study, patients were randomized into a usual care (UC) group (n = 31) or a flexible diuretic titration (DT) group (n = 35). The DT group completed a 6-item diuretic titration protocol once a day, for 3 months. The 6-minute walk distance, plasma B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-BNP), plasma norepinephrine (NE), and quality of life (QOL) were measured at baseline and at 3 months. Hospitalizations, emergency department (ED) visits, and mortality rates were measured at 3 months. Compared to baseline, at 3 months, there was a significant increase in the DT group's 6-minute walk distance (646 +/- 60 ft vs 761 +/- 61 ft, P = .01) and total QOL score (53 +/- 5 vs 38 +/- 5, P = .001), whereas these parameters remained unchanged within the UC group. There were significantly less ED visits in the DT group compared with those in the UC group (3% vs 23%, P = .015). No differences were found between the groups in HF-related hospitalizations or mortality. Within both groups, no differences were found between baseline and 3-month NE or NT-BNP plasma values. Patients with heart failure who used a sliding scale diuretic titration protocol had significant improvements in their exercise tolerance and QOL, had fewer ED visits, and had no change in plasma NE or NT-BNP levels.