To determine patterns of medication use based on clinical variables in patients with heart failure, we analyzed data from 5,999 patients participating in the Registry of Studies of Left Ventricular Dysfunction (SOLVD). The Registry comprised a broad spectrum of patients with heart failure, including some with predominantly diastolic dysfunction. Drug use was determined in a population cross-sectional manner at the time of identification hospitalized). The median number of drugs per patient was four, with diuretics taken by 62%, digitalis by 45%, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-I) by 32%, calcium channel blockers by 36%, antiarrhythmics by 22%, and beta-blockers by 18%. Only 18% were on the combination of ACE-I, diuretic, and digitalis. Stratification for diagnosis, heart failure symptoms, and ejection fractions demonstrated that triple-drug therapy (digitalis, diuretic, and ACE-I) was common only in those with ejection fractions less than .20 and several signs or symptoms of heart failure. Older patients were taking diuretics frequently (75% of patients older than 70 years of age), and our European center used fewer drugs overall, while prescribing digitalis about half as frequently as North American clinics. These data serve as the baseline for analysis of evolving therapeutic practice in patients with heart failure.
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