The prevalence of heart failure in patients with congenital heart disease, mainly due to large left to right shunts,
is as high as 20%. Heart failure has a high impact on prognosis, growth and neurodevelopment. Prior to surgery or after
palliative procedures children need a medical heart failure therapy. The traditional therapy with digoxin, diuretics and
ACE-inhibitors is not supported by prospective randomized trials. Propranolol had a significant beneficial effect on the
clinical heart failure score, neurohormonal activation, heart rate variability and cardiac remodeling in the prospective randomized
trial CHF-Pro-Infant. Beta-blocker dosages depend on heart rate with a target between 100 and 110 bpm in infants
and an average dose of 2mg/kg/day after a titration period of 2 to 3 weeks. Within the last 18 years after the first
case the author treated only infants with severe heart failure and highly elevated Pro-BNP-levels (8879 pg/ml on average).
However we never observed serious side effects due to worsening heart failure, severe bradycardia or pulmonary obstruction.
Diuretics are given as low as necessary to prevent the activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system with its
detrimental effect on cardiac remodeling.
Keywords: Heart failure, congenital heart disease, children, beta-blocker, neurohormonal activation, clinical trial.
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