Palliative medicine

Is there a role for subcutaneous furosemide in the community and hospice management of end-stage heart failure?

PMID 21398345


Patients with advanced chronic heart failure (CHF) can experience 'revolving door' admissions, often for parenteral diuretics, when time at home is precious. Home intravenous diuretic services are patchy. This retrospective review describes 43 consecutive episodes of continuous subcutaneous infusion of furosemide (CSCI-F) in 32 advanced CHF patients; 28 episodes aiming to correct fluid balance and prevent hospital admission and 15 aiming to prevent symptoms in the dying. Overall, 26/28 (93%) avoided hospital admission. Weight loss occurred in 20/28 (70%): a median loss of 5.6 kg [interquartile range (IQR) 0.1-8.9]). The daily dose of furosemide ranged from 40 to 250 mg. The median number of days on CSCI-F was 10.5 (range 2-48; IQR 6-13.8). Site reactions occurred in 10/43 (23%); all of which were mild except two, one of which required oral antibiotics. Symptoms were controlled in all 15 dying patients. CSCI-F for patients with advanced CHF is effective in terms of weight loss and prevention of hospital admission with the heart failure nurse specialist playing a key overall management role in selection and monitoring. As the majority of community and hospice nurses have access to and are familiar with CSCI pumps, this practice should be nationally transferable. The role in the dying patient requires further assessment.