What is the initial treatment for severe acute dilated cardiomyopathy?

Updated: Mar 02, 2021
  • Author: Vinh Q Nguyen, MD, FACC; Chief Editor: Gyanendra K Sharma, MD, FACC, FASE  more...
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In cases of severe acute heart failure, emergency medical services (EMS) personnel may initiate treatment with oxygen, nitrates, and furosemide en route to the hospital. Cardiac monitoring, continuous pulse oximetry, and electrocardiography (ECG) may also be performed by units with advanced life support (ALS) certification. Further ventilatory support or even intubation may be indicated if the patient is in extremis.

Treatment of dilated cardiomyopathy is essentially the same as treatment of chronic heart failure (CHF) and pulmonary edema; however, obtaining a thorough history from patients with dilated cardiomyopathy helps determine the etiology. When beginning treatment, administer oxygen, initiate continuous pulse oximetry and cardiac monitoring, and obtain intravenous access.

Mainstays of medical therapy are preload reduction, afterload reduction, diuresis, and airway support. In patients with severe refractory pulmonary edema, a trial of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or bimodal positive airway pressure (BiPAP) may obviate intubation.

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