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September 2018

Obesity-Associated Heart Failure as a Theoretical Target for Treatment With Mineralocorticoid Receptor Antagonists

Author Affiliations
  • 1Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute, Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, Texas
JAMA Cardiol. 2018;3(9):883-887. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2018.2090

Importance  Despite their clinical benefits, mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists are greatly underprescribed by most practitioners who treat patients with chronic heart failure. A novel approach to encouraging the use of these drugs is to enhance awareness about the intimate link between aldosterone and obesity.

Observations  There is a strong association between abdominal obesity and circulating levels of aldosterone, and markers of abdominal obesity identify patients most likely to benefit from mineralocorticoid receptor antagonism. In a trial of patients with heart failure and a reduced ejection fraction, patients with an increased waist circumference exhibited an approximately 50% reduction in the risk of a primary end point. The magnitude of benefit was more than twice as great in patients with abdominal obesity than in those with a normal waist circumference, and patients with abdominal obesity tolerated treatment better than nonobese patients. Similarly, in a trial of patients with heart failure and a preserved ejection fraction, those who were most likely to have abdominal obesity (identified by their level of natriuretic peptides) were most likely to demonstrate a benefit of treatment with spironolactone, exhibiting an approximately 80% reduction in the risk of a primary end point (based on a small number of events).

Conclusions and Relevance  Although these analyses are post hoc, their concordance and strong biological foundation suggests that abdominal obesity may identify patients who respond most favorably to mineralocorticoid receptor antagonism. Given the easy availability of its measurement, targeting patients with an increased waist circumference could enhance the adoption of these important drugs for the treatment of chronic heart failure in clinical practice.