ABSTRACT: Despite accumulating clinical evidence supporting a key role for venous congestion in the development of acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF), there remain several gaps in our knowledge of the pathophysiology of ADHF. Specifically, the biomechanically driven effects of venous congestion on the vascular endothelium (the largest endocrine/paracrine organ of the body), on neurohormonal activation, and on renal and cardiac dysfunction remain largely unexplored. We propose that venous congestion is a fundamental, hemodynamic stimulus for vascular inflammation, which plays a key role in the development and possibly the resolution of ADHF through vascular, humoral, renal, and cardiac mechanisms. A better understanding of the role of venous congestion and endothelial activation in the pathophysiology of ADHF may provide a strong rationale for near-future testing of treatment strategies that target biomechanically driven inflammation. Targeting vascular and systemic inflammation before symptoms arise may prevent progression to overt clinical decompensation in the ADHF syndrome.
Current Heart Failure Reports 06/2010; 7(2):66-74.