, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 89-97

Management of Heart Failure in the Elderly

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Abstract

The management of chronic heart failure in elderly patients is often complicated by the presence of multiple comorbid conditions, polypharmacy, psychosocial and financial concerns, and difficulties with adherence to complex medication and dietary regimens. In addition, few patients over 80 years of age have been enrolled in clinical trials, so that the efficacy of current heart failure therapies remains uncertain in this age group. Taken together, these factors contribute to the persistently high hospitalization and mortality rates as well as the poor quality of life associated with chronic heart failure in the elderly.

In this article, nonpharmacologic aspects of care and the pharmacotherapy of systolic heart failure in elderly patients are reviewed. Optimal management requires a systematic approach comprising 5 key elements: coordination of care across disciplines, patient and caregiver education, enhancement of self-management skills, effective followup, and the judicious use of medications. However, it must be recognized that even with “best practice” interventions, the prognosis for established heart failure remains poor. Future research must therefore be directed at developing more effective strategies for the prevention of heart failure in our aging population.