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Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive Heart Failure

Nariman Malik, BSc, MD
Contributing Author,
Geriatrics & Aging.

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a condition that affects individuals of all ages but is predominantly a medical condition of the elderly. In the elderly, it reflects the consequences of age-related changes in the cardiovascular system compounded by an increasing prevalence of hypertension, coronary artery disease and valvular heart disease.1 Heart failure is a complex clinical syndrome characterized by cardiac function that is inadequate to meet the circulatory demands of the body or only does so at abnormally elevated filling pressures.2,3 The ventricular dysfunction is either systolic or diastolic. A wide variety of etiologies is involved in heart failure; however, the underlying cause is an inability of the heart to properly fill or empty the ventricle. In general, the etiologies of heart failure in the elderly are the same as those in younger patients, although the clinical presentation can be quite different.3

CHF is the leading cause of admissions to hospital in individuals over the age of 65.2,4 In the United States, it is considered the most expensive cardiovascular disorder because of its high incidence and intensive use of medical resources; estimated costs related to this condition are in excess of $20 billion per year.