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Subcutaneous furosemide in advanced heart failure: service improvement project


Objectives In severe heart disease, parenteral administration of loop diuretic is often needed. We present clinical outcomes from episodes of care using subcutaneous continuous subcutaneous infusion of furosemide (CSCI-furosemide).

Methods Retrospective review of service improvement data. The heart failure nurse specialist, supported by the heart failure-palliative care multidisciplinary team, works with the community or hospice staff who administer the CSCI-furosemide. Data collected for consecutive patients receiving CSCI-furosemide included: age, sex, New York Heart Association (NYHA) class, preferred place of care, goal of treatment, infusion-site reactions, and signs and symptoms of fluid retention (including weight and self-reported breathlessness).

Results 116 people (men 86 (66%); mean age 79 years, 49–97; NYHA class 3 (36/116, 31%) or 4 heart failure (80/116, 69%)) received 130 episodes of CSCI-furosemide (average duration 10 days, 1–49), over half in the patient’s own home/care home (80/129,; 61%) aiming to prevent hospital admission. 40/129 (31%) were managed in the hospice, and 9 (7.0%) in a community hospital. Average daily furosemide dose was 125 mg (40–300 mg). The goal of treatment was achieved in (119/130, 91.5%) episodes.

The median reduction in weight was 4 kg (IQR −7 to −2 kgs, −22 to 9 kgs). Self-reported breathlessness reduced from 8.2 (±1.9) to 5.2 (±1.8). Adverse events occurred in 31/130 (24%) episodes; all but 4/130 (3%, localised skin infection) were mild.

Conclusions These preliminary data indicate that CSCI-furosemide is safe and effective for people with severe heart failure. An adequately powered randomised controlled trial is indicated.

  • heart failure
  • drug administration
  • service evaluation
  • symptoms and symptom management

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