Background: Despite that heart rate (HR) control is one of the guideline-recommended treatment goals for heart failure (HF) patients, implementation has been painstakingly slow. Therefore, it would be important to identify patients who have not yet achieved their target heart rates and assess possible underlying reasons as to why the target rates are not met.
Materials and methods: The survey of HR in patients with HF in Sweden (HR-HF survey) is an investigator-initiated, prospective, multicenter, observational longitudinal study designed to investigate the state of the art in the control of HR in HF and to explore potential underlying mechanisms for suboptimal HR control with focus on awareness of and adherence to guidelines for HR control among physicians who focus on the contributing role of beta-blockers (BBs).
Results: In 734 HF patients the mean HR was 68±12 beats per minute (bpm) (37.2% of the patients had a HR >70 bpm). Patients with HF with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) (n=425) had the highest HR (70±13 bpm, with 42% >70 bpm), followed by HF with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) and HF with mid-range ejection fraction (HFmrEF). Atrial fibrillation (AF), irrespective of HF type, had higher HR than sinus rhythm. A similar pattern was observed with BB treatment. Moreover, non-achievement of the recommended target HR (<70 bpm) in HFrEF and sinus rhythm was unrelated to age, sex, cardiovascular risk factors, cardiovascular diseases, and comorbidities, but was related to EF and the clinical decision of the physician. Approximately 50% of the physicians considered a HR of >70 bpm optimal and an equal number considered a HR of >70 bpm too high, but without recommending further action. Furthermore, suboptimal HR control cannot be attributed to the use of BBs because there was neither a difference in use of BBs nor an interaction with BBs for HR >70 bpm compared with HR <70 bpm.
Conclusion: Suboptimal control of heart rate was noted in HFrEF with sinus rhythm, which appeared to be attributable to physician decision making rather than to the use of beta-blockers. Therefore, our results underline the need for greater attention to heart rate control in patients with HFrEF and sinus rhythm and thus a potential for improved heart failure care.