Pharmacologic therapy represents the mainstay of treatment for heart failure in children. However, medical therapy for this population is not widely standardized. This is mainly due to the heterogeneity of potential etiologies, the specific challenge of patients with univentricular physiology and the lack of evidence-based prospective randomized clinical trials in pediatric patients. In fact, most current strategies are based largely on extrapolated data from adult studies. Although the classic drugs for heart failure i.e. diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, β-blockers and cardiac glycosides, still play a major role in the treatment of pediatric heart failure, newer alternative therapies such as levosimendan and nesiritide are increasingly utilized with promising early results. A systematic literature search of PubMed and MEDLINE databases using relevant terms was performed. All clinical trials and relevant manuscripts about the current pharmacologic treatment of heart failure in the pediatric population were reviewed. New drugs such as levosimendan and nesiritide and the treatment of single-ventricle patients were also included.
Keywords: Pediatric heart failure, diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, β-blocker, nesiritide, levosimendan, arrhythmia, anemia, digitalis, aldosterone
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