Advanced chronic heart failure: a position statement from the Study Group on Advanced Heart Failure of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology
Therapy has improved the survival of heart failure (HF) patients. However, many patients progress to advanced chronic HF (ACHF). We propose a practical clinical definition and describe the characteristics of this condition. Patients that are generally recognised as ACHF often exhibit the following characteristics: 1) severe symptoms (NYHA class III to IV); 2) episodes with clinical signs of fluid retention and/or peripheral hypoperfusion; 3) objective evidence of severe cardiac dysfunction, shown by at least one of the following: left ventricular ejection fraction <30%, pseudonormal or restrictive mitral inflow pattern at Doppler-echocardiography; high left and/or right ventricular filling pressures; elevated B-type natriuretic peptides; 4) severe impairment of functional capacity demonstrated by either inability to exercise, a 6-minute walk test distance <300 m or a peak oxygen uptake <12–14 ml/kg/min; 5) history of >1 HF hospitalisation in the past 6 months; 6) presence of all the previous features despite optimal therapy. This definition identifies a group of patients with compromised quality of life, poor prognosis, and a high risk of clinical events. These patients deserve effective therapeutic options and should be potential targets for future clinical research initiatives.