Diagnosis of heart failure in elderly patients in primary care

Eur J Heart Fail. 2001 Jan;3(1):79-81. doi: 10.1016/s1388-9842(00)00086-6.


Background: Heart failure is difficult to diagnose in a primary care setting with a reported false positive diagnosis in up to 70% of cases.

Aims: To use echocardiography in a large rural practice to evaluate the accuracy of diagnosis of heart failure in patients over 65 years of age.

Methods: Sixty patients with a previous diagnosis of heart failure were selected at random from the practice records and were invited to attend for an echocardiogram at the practice premises.

Results: Fifty-eight patients attended, the age was 81+/-7 years, 29% had impaired left ventricular (LV) systolic function of whom 65% were in atrial fibrillation. A further 7% had isolated diastolic LV dysfunction. The prevalence of heart failure by clinical assessment was 29 per 1000 in this patient group and 9 per 1000 when echocardiography was used to confirm the diagnosis.

Conclusion: True heart failure in this population is less prevalent than has been estimated from practice records.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Echocardiography
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / diagnostic imaging*
  • Heart Failure / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Rural Population