JACC Heart Fail. 2023 Jan 12:S2213-1779(22)00721-1. doi: 10.1016/j.jchf.2022.11.026. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Initiation and up-titration of guideline-directed medical therapies (GDMTs) for heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) remains suboptimal, in part because of concerns regarding tolerability and adverse events (AEs).
OBJECTIVES: The authors sought to compare rates of AE in patients randomized to GDMT medication vs placebo in a meta-analysis of landmark cardiovascular outcomes trials.
METHODS: The authors assessed rates of reported AE in 17 landmark HFrEF clinical trials across each class of GDMT in the placebo and intervention arms. The overall rates of AE for each drug class, the absolute difference in frequency in AEs between the placebo and intervention arms, and the odds of each AE according based on randomization strata were calculated.
RESULTS: AE were reported commonly in trials across each class of GDMT, with 75% to 85% of participants reporting at least 1 AE. There was no significant difference in the frequency of AE between the intervention and placebo arms, except for angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (87.0% [95% CI: 85.0%-88.8%] vs 82.0% [95% CI: 79.8%-84.0%], absolute difference: +5% with intervention; P < 0.001). There was no significant difference in drug discontinuation because of AE between placebo and intervention arms in angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists, sodium glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitors, or angiotensin receptor neprilysin inhibitor/angiotensin II receptor blocker trials. Patients randomized to beta-blocker were significantly less likely to stop study drug because of AE than placebo (11.3% [95% CI: 10.3%-12.3%] vs 13.7% [95% CI: 12.5%-14.9%], absolute difference: -1.1%; P = 0.015). When individual types of AE were assessed, the initiation of an intervention vs placebo resulted in small differences in absolute frequency of AE that were largely not statistically significant.
CONCLUSIONS: In clinical trials of GDMT for HFrEF, AEs are observed frequently. However, rates of AE are similar between active medication and control, suggesting these may reflect the high risk nature of the heart failure disease state rather than be attributive to a specific therapy.