Heart Failure Etiology Is Usually Pluricausal Whether or Not There is Associated Coronary Disease


Arthur L Klatsky, MD; Sharon Gronningen, RN; Natalia Udaltsova, PhD; Douglas Chartier, MD; Somjot S Brar, MD; James Schipper, MD; Robert J Lundstrom, MD

Winter 2007 - Volume 11 Number 1



The heart failure syndrome (HF) has diverse etiologies. In a 22-year study of predictors of HF in 126,235 persons, we attempted to identify etiologic factors independent of associated coronary heart disease (CAD) in 2594 persons hospitalized for the condition. For this purpose, subjects were stratified according to whether CAD was present. Of the subjects, 60% had evidence for CAD (CAD-HF). Because we also wished to study HF predictors in subjects without associated CAD according to specific HF etiology, the paper records of the other 40% of subjects (non-CAD-HF) underwent a detailed review so that we could determine the apparent primary etiology and contributory factors. A random sample of all subjects with CAD-HF underwent a similar paper record review so that we could ascertain contributory factors. The primary etiology among the subjects with non-CAD-HF was categorized as systemic hypertension (HTN) in 354, valve disease in 110, cardiomyopathies (including alcoholic and idiopathic) in 93, other specific miscellaneous in 55, and primary etiology not evident (unclear) in 423. The unclear-group subjects generally had multiple probable contributing factors. In addition to the preponderant etiology in subjects with non-CAD-HF, the mean number of contributory factors was 1.5; among subjects with CAD-HF, the mean number of contributory factors was 1.9. Frequent additional factors, in both CAD-HF and non-CAD-HF, were HTN, diabetes mellitus, atrial fibrillation, and heavy alcohol consumption. These data show that primary HF etiology is often uncertain and that HF etiology is usually multifactorial, whether or not CAD is present.


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