Right heart catheterization was performed before and during long-term therapy with prazosin in 27 patients with severe chronic heart failure who underwent serial hemodynamic studies during 3 to 12 weeks of treatment with the drug. Doses of digoxin and furosemide remained constant during the trial; in addition, 11 of the 27 patients were assigned to concomitant therapy with spironolactone, while the remaining 16 patients did not receive the aldosterone antagonist. First doses of prazosin produced marked increases in cardiac index and marked decreases in mean arterial pressure, left ventricular filling pressure and systemic vascular resistance in both groups of patients (all p < 0.01), but these effects became rapidly attenuated (p < 0.01) in both groups after 48 hours and remained attenuated during long-term therapy. After 3 to 12 weeks, values for cardiac index returned to pretreatment levels and did not decrease when the drug was withdrawn; values for mean arterial pressure, left ventricular filling pressure and systemic vascular resistance remained significantly decreased (although attenuated) after 3 to 12 weeks (p < 0.01) and increased to pretreatment values when the drug was withdrawn. The magnitude and time course of these responses were not altered by concomitant therapy with spironolactone. Complete loss of hemodynamic efficacy (prazosin tolerance) was noted in 14 (58%) of the 24 patients who underwent long-term hemodynamic study and was not accompanied by longterm changes in plasma renin activity or body weight. These data indicate that prazosin produces long-term hemodynamic and clinical benefits in only 30 to 40% of patients with severe chronic heart failure and do not support a role for the renin-angiotensin system in the development of tolerance to alpha-adrenergic blockade. This low response rate explains why most randomized double-blind trials of prazosin in heart failure have not been able to demonstrate a significant difference between patients treated with placebo and those receiving active drug.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine