Pharmacotherapy of heart failure in the elderly: Adverse events

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Aging is associated with numerous alterations in body composition and organ function that result in substantial changes in the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination of virtually all drugs. In addition, older patients with heart failure (HF) almost invariably have multiple coexisting medical conditions for which they are receiving medications. This article reviews common adverse drug effects and drug interactions associated with HF therapy in older patients and discusses strategies for reducing the risk of adverse drug events. In order to minimize these risks, it is essential that clinicians avoid prescribing unnecessary medications, adjust medication dosages to optimally balance benefits and side effects, and remain ever vigilant to the potential for medications to cause or contribute to clinically important adverse events and impaired quality of life. In treating older HF patients, the oft-cited dictum "start low, go slow" clearly applies. Despite the inherent challenges, with careful management and close follow-up, most older HF patients can be successfully treated through the judicious use of guideline-recommended HF therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-595
Number of pages7
JournalHeart Failure Reviews
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012


  • Adverse events
  • Drug therapy
  • Elderly
  • Heart failure


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