Heart Failure in Older Adults

Can J Cardiol. 2016 Sep;32(9):1140-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2016.05.005. Epub 2016 May 10.


Heart failure (HF) is a leading cause of morbidity, hospitalization, and mortality in older adults and a growing public health problem placing a huge financial burden on the health care system. Many challenges exist in the assessment and management of HF in geriatric patients, who often have coexisting multimorbidity, polypharmacy, cognitive impairment, and frailty. These complex "geriatric domains" greatly affect physical and functional status as well as long-term clinical outcomes. Geriatric patients have been under-represented in major HF clinical trials. Nonetheless, available data suggest that guideline-based medical and device therapies improve morbidity and mortality. Nonpharmacologic strategies, such as exercise training and dietary interventions, are an active area of research. Targeted geriatric evaluation, including functional and cognitive assessment, can improve risk stratification and guide management in older patients with HF. Clinical trials that enroll older patients with multiple morbidities and HF and evaluate functional status and quality of life in addition to mortality and cardiovascular morbidity should be encouraged to guide management of this age group.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / complications
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnosis
  • Defibrillators, Implantable
  • Frail Elderly
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Heart Failure / complications
  • Heart Failure / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Multiple Chronic Conditions
  • Polypharmacy
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic