Ali Ahmed, MD, MPH, FACP, Assistant Professor, Division of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine and Department of Epidemiology and International Health, School of Public Health, Scientist, Center for Aging and Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research and Education, University of Alabama at Birmingham; Staff Physician, Heart Failure Clinic and Section of Geriatrics, Veterans Affairs Medical Center; Member, Heart Failure Project, Alabama Quality Assurance Foundation, Birmingham, AL, USA.
Heart Failure: A Geriatric Syndrome
Heart failure (HF) is a "geriatric syndrome" as much as it is a "cardiac syndrome." The prevalence of HF in Canada is over 350,000 and between 25% and 40% of patients are dead within one year of diagnosis.1 Most HF patients are 65 years of age and older,2 and both the incidence and prevalence of HF increase with age.3 Over 90% of all HF-related deaths occur in persons 65 years of age and older.4 HF is the number one hospital discharge diagnosis for this group of patients.5 Diagnosis and management of HF in older adults is complicated by functional impairment, multiple comorbidities, polypharmacy and left ventricular systolic dysfunction (LVSD).6,7
Historic Role of Digitalis in Heart Failure
Digitalis glycosides are present in the leaves of the foxglove, Digitalis purpurea (digitoxin) or Digitalis lanata (digoxin), or in the seeds of Strophanthus gratus (ouabain).