A number of important questions surrounding the treatment of systolic congestive heart failure have been answered by randomised clinical trials completed within the past 2 years. In particular, these studies have established that high-dose angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibition is more beneficial than low dose therapy, and that angiotensin II receptor antagonists are an acceptable alternative in patients unable to tolerate ACE inhibitors. Digoxin has been shown to be the only inotropic agent not associated with increased mortality, while amiodarone exerts a modest survival benefit in arrhythmiaprone patients. Beta-blockers appear to be beneficial for selected patients although their precise role remains to be defined by ongoing studies.
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