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Diagnosis and management of heart failure in the elderly.
  1. D. King
  1. Department of Medicine, Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral, Merseyside, UK.


    Heart failure is common in the elderly and is associated with a significant morbidity and mortality. It accounts for about 5% of adult medical admissions and the expenditure of 1% of the total National Health Service budget. Clinical presentation in old age may be with the classical symptoms of heart failure but often, due to multiple pathology and low functional ability, presentation is atypical. Both nonspecific symptoms and signs of heart failure, are often a delayed presentation in this population, make diagnosis difficult. Treatment of the failing heart in an older person is similar to the young however, diligence is required when prescribing due to age-related pharmacokinetic changes and co-existent morbidity. This may result in polypharmacy and an increase in drug interactions which themselves may have deleterious consequences. However, knowledge of the aetiology of heart failure in old age and the possible atypical presentation as well as available treatments, will result in better management and improved quality of life and reduced mortality in the elderly heart failure population.

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