Feature Article

The kidney: victim or villain in heart failure?

Simon D Roger
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Deteriorating renal function is often a complication of heart failure, and kidney disease itself can lead to cardiomyopathy. The combination of renal failure and heart failure is referred to as the cardiorenal syndrome; management of this syndrome requires the careful adjustment of medications.

Key Points

  • Increasingly, patients are being diagnosed with both heart and renal failure – the cardiorenal syndrome.
  • Careful adjustment of cardiovascular medications allows treatment of heart failure without compromising kidney function.
  • When managing patients with heart failure, be alert for signs of fluid retention and changes in blood pressure and always consider underlying renal disease.
  • Important laboratory values to determine in patients with heart and renal failure include concentrations of electrolytes, estimated glomerular filtration rate and haemoglobin level.