Background. Elevated plasma levels of cytokines have been associated with an increased risk of congestive heart failure (CHF) even in people without history of myocardial infarction. Here we have tested the hypothesis that effective removal of pro-inflammatory cytokines in patients with advanced CHF unresponsive to diuretic treatment is associated with diuresis restoration and with a significant reduction of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) circulating levels. Methods. We prospectively enrolled 10 patients with decompensated CHF (NYHA classes III-IV). Five patients unresponsive to diuretic treatment underwent a short course of intermittent haemodiafiltration (iHDF), whereas five patients responsive to diuretics were treated with intravenous boluses of furosemide. Renal function was similar between the two groups. Results. Excess body fluids were removed in both groups always resulting in a reduction of pulmonary congestion and peripheral oedema. NYHA class improved in all patients, but one treated by intravenous boluses of furosemide. Only patients treated with iHDF showed a significant reduction of circulating interleukin-8 and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1. After the end of iHDF treatment, patients showed consistent restoration of diuretic responsiveness to significantly lower doses of oral furosemide up to one month of follow-up. Plasma levels of BNP before treatment were significantly higher in the iHDF group, lowering significantly in both groups after treatment. Conclusions. Our results suggest that HDF is an effective treatment for patients with advanced CHF when cytokines have to be cleared and diuretic responsiveness needs to be restored. In our experience, iHDF is a cost-effective option when compared with continuous ultrafiltration methods because it can be performed in a routine dialysis unit without adjunctive costs for machinery or personnel training.
- Congestive heart failure
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