AHF (acute heart failure) causes significant morbidity and mortality. Recent studies have postulated that the expression of inflammatory mediators, such as cytokines and chemokines, plays an important role in the development and progression of heart failure. A pro-inflammatory state has been postulated as a key factor in triggering CMV (cytomegalovirus) reactivation. Therefore we sought to determine the prevalence of active CMV infection in immunocompetent patients admitted for AHF and to quantify the association with the risk of the combined end point of death or AHF readmission. A total of 132 consecutive patients admitted for AHF were enrolled in the present study. Plasma CMV DNAaemia was assessed by qRT-PCR (quantitative real-time PCR), and cytokine measurements in plasma were performed by ELISA. Clinical data were evaluated by personnel blinded to CMV results. The independent association between active CMV infection and the end point was determined by Cox regression analysis. During a median follow-up of 120 [IQR (interquartile range), 60–240] days, 23 (17.4%) deaths, 34 (24.2%) readmissions for AHF and 45 (34.1%) deaths/readmissions for AHF were identified. Plasma CMV DNAaemia occurred in 11 (8.3%) patients, albeit at a low level (<100 copies/ml). The cumulative rate of the composite end point was higher in patients with CMV DNAaemia (81.8 compared with 29.8%; P<0.001). After adjusting for established risk factors, the occurrence of CMV DNAaemia was strongly associated with the clinical end point [hazard ratio = 4.39 (95% confidence interval, 2.02–9.52); P<0.001]. In conclusion, active CMV infection occurs, although uncommonly, in patients with AHF, and may be a marker of disease severity.

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