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Curr Opin Cardiol. 2006 Jul;21(4):393-9.

Drug therapy of chronic heart failure in the elderly: the current state of clinical-trial evidence.

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  • 1NHMRC Centre of Clinical Research Excellence in Therapeutics, Department of Epidemiology, Monash University and Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.



beta-Blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers, aldosterone receptor antagonists, and digoxin are the most common drug classes used to treat chronic heart failure. We examine current clinical trial evidence concerning heart-failure management in the elderly.


beta-Blockers provide significant mortality benefit to elderly heart-failure patients and are remarkably well tolerated. Angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors improve mortality and morbidity in systolic heart failure. However, the risk/benefit relationship of angiotensin-converting-enzyme therapy in the elderly has not been adequately determined. Angiotensin II receptor blockers improve morbidity in elderly and non-elderly chronic heart-failure patients; however, data are limited regarding mortality in these patients. Aldosterone receptor antagonists provide significant mortality benefit to elderly chronic heart-failure patients. Digoxin is beneficial as an additive therapy in the treatment of systolic heart failure regardless of advanced age.


Agents that provide substantive clinical benefit overall also appear to do so in the elderly, based on subgroup analysis of major trials. There have been very few prospective, placebo-controlled trials specifically in elderly heart-failure patients. Elderly heart-failure patients generally tolerate standard chronic heart-failure therapies well. Standard chronic heart-failure therapies should not be withheld from elderly patients based on concerns regarding efficacy or fear of medication intolerance.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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