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Heart. 2012 Oct;98(19):1418-23. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2012-302457. Epub 2012 Aug 2.

Prevalence of left ventricular dysfunction in a UK community sample of very old people: the Newcastle 85+ study.

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  • 1Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, Campus for Ageing and Vitality, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 5PL, UK.



Heart failure (HF) prevalence rises sharply among those aged 85 years and over. Previous population based echocardiographic studies of left ventricular (LV) dysfunction, the substrate for HF, have included only small numbers in this age group. We used domiciliary echocardiography to estimate the prevalence of LV systolic and diastolic dysfunction in 87-89 year olds and the proportion remaining undiagnosed.


Cross sectional analysis of data from Newcastle 85+ Study.


Primary care, North-East England.


376 men and women aged 87-89 years.


Domiciliary echocardiography was performed and LV systolic and diastolic function was graded. The presence of limiting dyspnoea was assessed by questionnaire. Previous diagnoses of HF were abstracted from general practice (GP) records.


32% of participants (119/376) had LV systolic dysfunction (ejection fraction (EF) ≤50%) and a further 20% (75/376) had moderate or severe LV diastolic dysfunction with preserved EF. Both echocardiographic assessment of LV function and dyspnoea status were available in 74% (278/376) of participants. Among these participants, limiting dyspnoea was present in approximately two thirds of those with significant (systolic or isolated moderate/severe diastolic) LV dysfunction. 84% (73/87) of participants with significant LV dysfunction and limiting dyspnoea did not have a pre-existing HF diagnosis in their GP records. Overall, 26% (73/278) of participants with both echocardiographic and dyspnoea data had undiagnosed, symptomatic, significant LV dysfunction.


Significant systolic and diastolic LV dysfunction is much commoner in community dwelling 87-89 year olds than previous studies have suggested. The majority are both symptomatic and undiagnosed.

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