Ambulatory Inotrope Infusions in Advanced Heart Failure: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Tiana Nizamic, M. Hassan Murad, Larry A. Allen, Colleen K. McIlvennan, Sara E. Wordingham, Daniel D. Matlock, Shannon M. Dunlay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study sought to systematically review the available evidence of risks and benefits of ambulatory intravenous inotrope therapy in advanced heart failure (HF). Background: Ambulatory inotrope infusions are sometimes offered to patients with advanced Stage D HF; however, an understanding of the relative risks and benefits is lacking. Methods: On August 7, 2016, we searched SCOPUS, Web of Science, Ovid EMBASE, and Ovid MEDLINE for studies of long-term use of intravenous inotropes in outpatients with advanced HF. Meta-analysis was performed using random effects models. Results: A total of 66 studies (13 randomized controlled trials and 53 observational studies) met inclusion criteria. Most studies were small and at high risk for bias. Pooled rates of death (41 studies), all-cause hospitalization (15 studies), central line infection (13 studies), and implantable cardioverter-defibrillator shocks (3 studies) of inotropes were 4.2, 22.2, 3.6, and 2.4 per 100 person-months follow-up, respectively. Improvement in New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional class was greater in patients taking inotropes than in controls (mean difference of 0.60 NYHA functional classes; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.22 to 0.98; p = 0.001; 5 trials). There was no significant difference in mortality risk in those taking inotropes compared with controls (pooled risk ratio: 0.68; 95% CI: 0.40 to 1.17; p = 0.16; 9 trials). Data were too limited to pool for other outcomes or to stratify by indication (i.e., bridge-to-transplant or palliative). Conclusions: High-quality evidence for the risks and benefits of ambulatory inotrope infusions in advanced HF is limited, particularly when used for palliation. Available data suggest that inotrope therapy improves NYHA functional class and does not impact survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)757-767
Number of pages11
JournalJACC: Heart Failure
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • death
  • hospitalization
  • palliative care
  • risk
  • transplant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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