Heart failure in the elderly

Pablo Díez-Villanueva, César Jiménez-Méndez, Fernando Alfonso
Journal of Geriatric Cardiology: JGC 2021 March 28, 18 (3): 219-232
Heart failure (HF) is a clinical syndrome caused by structural and/or functional cardiac abnormalities, resulting in a reduced cardiac output and/or elevated intracardiac filling pressures at rest or during stress. HF is a major public health problem with high prevalence and incidence, involving both high morbidity and mortality, but also high economic costs. The incidence of HF progressively increases with age, reaching around 20% among people over 75 years old. Indeed, HF represents the leading cause of hospitalization in patients older than 65 years in Western countries. Hence, some authors even consider HF a geriatric syndrome, entailing worse prognosis and high residual disability, and often associating some complex comorbidities, common in older population, that may further complicate the course of the disease. On the other hand, however, clinical course and prognosis may be often difficult to predict. In this article, main pathophysiological issues related to the aging heart are addressed, together with key aspects related to both diagnosis and prognosis in elderly patients with HF. Besides, main geriatric conditions, common in the elderly population, are reviewed, highlighting the importance of a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach.

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