Impact of eplerenone on cardiovascular outcomes in heart failure patients with hypokalaemia

Patrick Rossignol, Nicolas Girerd, George Bakris, Orly Vardeny, Brian Claggett, John J.V. McMurray, Karl Swedberg, Henry Krum, Dirk J. van Veldhuisen, Harry Shi, Sean Spanyers, John Vincent, Renaud Fay, Zohra Lamiral, Scott D. Solomon, Faiez Zannad, Bertram Pitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Aims: Although hypokalaemia is common among patients with heart failure (HF), the prognostic significance of baseline hypokalaemia and hypokalaemia during follow-up in HF patients receiving a mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist (MRA) remains uncertain. Methods and results: Results of the EMPHASIS-HF trial in patients (n = 2737) with HF and reduced EF with mild symptoms, randomized to eplerenone or placebo, were analysed with regard to the presence or occurrence of hypokalaemia (serum K+ <4.0 mmol/L) and the risk of cardiovascular death or hospitalization for HF (primary endpoint). Median follow-up was 21 months. Baseline hypokalaemia and hypokalaemia during follow-up were common occurrences (19.6% and 40.6%, respectively). Hypokalaemia during follow-up was associated with worse outcomes in multivariable analyses [hazard ratio (HR) 1.26, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.05–1.52, P = 0.01] without evidence of interaction with eplerenone. In contrast, baseline hypokalaemia was associated with outcomes in the placebo group (HR 1.37, 95% CI 1.05–1.79, P = 0.02) but not in the eplerenone group (HR 0.87, 95% CI 0.62–1.23, P = 0.44; P for interaction = 0.04). Concurrently, eplerenone was found to be more protective in patients with baseline hypokalaemia vs. patients without baseline hypokalaemia compared with placebo (HR 0.44, 95% 0.30–0.64, P < 0.0001 vs. 0.69, 95% CI 0.57–0.83, P = 0.0001; P for interaction = 0.04). In patients without baseline hypokalaemia, eplerenone use decreased the rate of hypokalaemia during follow-up (HR 0.69, 95% CI 0.59–0.80, P < 0.001). A potassium level >4.0 mmol/L at 1 month after randomization mediated 26.0% (0.6–51.4%) of the eplerenone treatment effect (P = 0.04). Conclusion: In HF patients receiving optimal therapy but not treated with eplerenone, baseline hypokalaemia was associated with worse outcomes. Conversely, hypokalaemia amplified the treatment effect of eplerenone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)792-799
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Heart Failure
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017


  • Eplerenone
  • Heart failure
  • Potassium
  • Prognosis

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