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Heart failure: Practice-changing developments for hospitalists



The H2FPEF score

Diagnosis of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) is a challenge in euvolemic patients with clear lungs and dyspnea on exertion. Investigators at the Mayo Clinic have developed and subsequently validated a weighted score known as the H2FPEF score that’s of great assistance in this task. The score is based upon a set of six simple variables universally available in patients undergoing diagnostic workup for the numerous potential causes for dyspnea on exertion. Together these six variables comprise the acronym H2FPEF:

  • Heavy: One point for a BMI greater than 30 kg/m2.
  • Hypertension: One point for being on two or more antihypertensive drugs.
  • Atrial fibrillation: Three points for paroxysmal or persistent AF.
  • Pulmonary hypertension: One point for having a Doppler echocardiographic estimated pulmonary artery systolic pressure greater than 35 mm Hg.
  • Elder: One point for age greater than 60 years.
  • Filling pressure: One point for a Doppler echocardiographic E/e’ ratio above 9.

The total score can range from 0 to 9. (Circulation. 2018 Aug 28;138[9]:861-70).

Each 1-point increase in the score essentially doubled a patient’s risk of having HFpEF as opposed to pulmonary embolism or some other cause for the dyspnea.

“I really like this H2FPEF score. The score works very, very well. Once you get to a score of 6 or above, the probability of HFpEF is more than 90%, which is pretty powerful. I think this is worthwhile,” Dr. Smith said.

In their derivation and validation cohorts, the Mayo Clinic investigators used as their gold standard for diagnosis of HFpEF invasive hemodynamic exercise testing with a pulmonary artery catheter in place to measure pressures. A score that enables hospitalists to lessen the need for that kind of costly invasive testing is most welcome.

“Here’s how I’d use this score: With an H2FPEF score of 0-1, HFpEF is unlikely. With an intermediate score of 2-5, additional testing is warranted. If the score is high, 6-9, I think HFpEF is likely,” the hospitalist said.

Dr. Smith isn’t the only big fan of the H2FPEF score. In an editorial accompanying publication of the score’s validation study, Walter J. Paulus, MD, PhD, hailed the H2FPEF score as “a unique tour de force” which constitutes a major advance beyond the confusing diagnostic recommendations for HFpEF issued by the European Society of Cardiology and the American Society of Echocardiography, which he said have been “met by skepticism qualifying them as overcomplicated and even triggered disbelief in the existence of HFpEF.”

Particularly interesting were the variables rejected for inclusion in the H2FPEF score because they failed to achieve statistical significance as predictors, even though they’re often considered important in defining HFpEF, he noted. These included left atrial volume index, sex, and levels of circulating N-terminal probrain natriuretic peptide, wrote Dr. Paulus, professor of cardiac pathophysiology at VU University, Amsterdam.

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