Non-pharmacologic autonomic neuromodulation for treatment of heart failure: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Mohammad Ahmed, Matthew Nudy, Rahul Bussa, Frank Weigel, Gerald Naccarelli, Ankit Maheshwari

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Treatment strategies that modulate autonomic tone through interventional and device-based therapies have been studied as an adjunct to pharmacological treatment of heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF). The main objective of this study was to perform a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials which evaluated the efficacy of device-based autonomic modulation for treatment of HFrEF. All randomized-controlled trials testing autonomic neuromodulation device therapy in HFrEF were included in this trial-level analysis. Autonomic neuromodulation techniques included vagal nerve stimulation (VNS), baroreflex activation (BRA), spinal cord stimulator (SCS), and renal denervation (RD). The prespecified primary endpoints included mean change and 95% confidence intervals (CI) of left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), NT pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP), and quality of life (QOL) measures including 6-minute hall walk distance (6-MHWD), and Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire (MLHFQ). New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional class improvement was reported as odds ratios and 95% CI of improvement by at least 1 functional class. Eight studies were identified that included 1037 participants (2 VNS, 2 BRA, 1 SCS, and 3 RD trials). This included 6 open-label, 1 single-blind, and 1 sham-controlled, double-blind study. The mean age (±SD) was 61 (±9.3) years. The mean follow-up time was 7.9 months. Twenty percent of the total patients were female, and the mean BMI (±SD) was 29.86 (±4.12). Autonomic neuromodulation device therapy showed a statistically significant improvement in LVEF (4.02%; 95% CI 0.24,7.79), NT-proBNP (-219.80 pg/ml; 95% CI -386.56, -53.03), NYHA functional class (OR 2.32; 95% CI 1.76, 3.07), 6-MHWD (48.39 m; 95% CI 35.49, 61.30), and MLHFQ (-12.20; 95% CI -19.24, -5.16) compared to control. In patients with HFrEF, the use of autonomic neuromodulation device therapy is associated with improvement in LVEF, reduction in NT-proBNP, and improvement in patient-centered QOL outcomes in mostly small open-label trials. Large, double-blind, sham-controlled trials designed to detect differences in hard cardiovascular outcomes are needed before widespread use and adoption of autonomic neuromodulation device therapies in HFrEF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-107
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Cardiovascular Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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