Grading the severity of congestive heart failure in infants

Robert D. Ross, Robert O. Bollinger, William W. Pinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

199 Scopus citations


To determine which variables most accurately define congestive heart failure (CHF) in infants, 41 patients (median age 2.5 months) were graded by four pediatric cardiologists for the presence and severity of CHF based on the following variables: amount of formula consumed per feeding, feeding time, history of diaphoresis or tachypnea, growth parameters, respiratory and heart rates, respiratory pattern, perfusion, presence of edema, diastolic filling sounds, and hepatomegaly. There were 19 patients graded as having no CHF, nine as mild, seven moderate, and six severe CHF. The most sensitive and specific variables (p<0.0001) for the presence of CHF were a history of <3.5 oz/feed, respiratory rate >50/min, an abnormal respiratory pattern, diastolic filling sounds, and hepatomegaly. Moderate to severe CHF was present when patients took <3 oz/feed or >40 min/feed, had and abnormal respiratory pattern with a resting respiratory rate >60/min, and had a diastolic filling sound and moderate hepatomegaly. Severe CHF was accompanied by a heart rate >170/min, decreased perfusion, and severe hepatomegaly. Thus, the grading of the severity of CHF in infants should include an accurate description of these historical and clinical variables.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-75
Number of pages4
JournalPediatric Cardiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1992


  • Congenital heart disease
  • Congestive heart failure


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