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Am J Med. 1999 Jun;106(6):605-12.

Risk factors for heart failure in the elderly: a prospective community-based study.

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Department of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8025, USA.



The risk factors for the development of heart failure are not clearly defined, particularly for older adults. We undertook the current investigation to examine the associations of traditional cardiovascular risk factors, comorbidity, and psychosocial factors with the risk of heart failure during 10 years of follow-up in a community-based elderly population.


We evaluated 1,749 subjects, 65 years of age or older, free of heart failure, myocardial infarction, and angina at baseline, who were participating in the New Haven, Connecticut cohort of the Established Population for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly program. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to determine risk ratios (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).


During 13,811 person-years of follow-up, 173 subjects developed incident heart failure, as confirmed by chart review. Five factors were independent predictors of heart failure: male sex (RR = 1.7; CI, 1.3 to 2.4), older age (RR = 1.9; CI, 1.3 to 2.7 for age 75 to 84 years, RR = 3.0; CI, 1.7 to 5.5 for age 85 years and older, compared with < or = 74 years), diabetes (RR = 2.9; CI, 2.0 to 4.3), pulse pressure > or = 70 mm Hg (RR = 2.3; CI, 1.3 to 4.3, compared with <50 mm Hg), and body mass index > or = 28 kg/m2 (RR = 1.6; CI, 1.0 to 2.4, compared with <24 kg/ m2). Myocardial infarction occurred during follow-up in 8% of the cohort and was also an important predictor of heart failure (RR = 21; CI, 15 to 31).


Age and traditional cardiovascular risk factors are associated with the development of heart failure in the elderly. Preventive strategies should focus on the management of diabetes, blood pressure, and weight, in addition to the prevention and management of myocardial infarction.

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