Epidemiology of heart failure: the prevalence of heart failure and ventricular dysfunction in older adults over time. A systematic review

Eur J Heart Fail. 2016 Mar;18(3):242-52. doi: 10.1002/ejhf.483. Epub 2016 Jan 4.


The 'epidemic' of heart failure seems to be changing, but precise prevalence estimates of heart failure and left ventricular dysfunction (LVD) in older adults, based on adequate echocardiographic assessment, are scarce. Systematic reviews including recent studies on the prevalence of heart failure and LVD are lacking. We aimed to assess the trends in the prevalence of LVD, and heart failure with reduced (HFrEF) and preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) in the older population at large. A systematic electronic search of the databases Medline and Embase was performed. Studies that reported prevalence estimates in community-dwelling people ≥60 years old were included if echocardiography was used to establish the diagnosis. In total, 28 articles from 25 different study populations were included. The median prevalence of systolic and 'isolated' diastolic LVD was 5.5% (range 3.3-9.2%) and 36.0% (range 15.8-52.8%), respectively. A peak in systolic dysfunction prevalence seems to have occurred between 1995 and 2000. 'All type' heart failure had a median prevalence rate of 11.8% (range 4.7-13.3%), with fairly stable rates in the last decade and with HFpEF being more common than HFrEF [median prevalence 4.9% (range 3.8-7.4%) and 3.3% (range 2.4-5.8%), respectively]. Both LVD and heart failure remain common in the older population at large. The prevalence of diastolic dysfunction is on the rise and currently higher than that of systolic dysfunction. The prevalence of the latter seems to have decreased in the 21st century.

Keywords: Epidemiology; Heart failure; Left ventricular dysfunction; Prevalence; Trend.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Heart Failure / epidemiology*
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Time Factors
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Left / epidemiology*
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Left / physiopathology