Drugs Aging. 2023 Aug;40(8):691-702. doi: 10.1007/s40266-023-01046-0. Epub 2023 Jul 14.
Heart failure is a prevalent syndrome among older adults, with a major impact on morbidity and mortality. Higher age is correlated with underuse of guideline-directed medical therapies which, in turn, has been linked to worse clinical outcomes. Importantly, most evidence so far has been collected in adults who were younger, less multi-morbid and polymedicated compared with those who are commonly treated in daily clinical practice. Hence, we aimed to assess and describe the evidence base for pharmacotherapy in older adults with heart failure with a reduced ejection. First, a narrative review was undertaken using Medline, from inception to January 2023. Four foundational therapies were selected based on the latest European Society of Cardiology clinical practice guideline: angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors/angiotensin receptor neprilysin inhibitors, beta blockers, mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists and sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors. Post hoc analyses from landmark heart failure drug trials were searched and included if they contained data on the impact of age on efficacy, safety and/or timeliness of therapies in the management of heart failure with a reduced ejection fraction. Second, a proposal was developed to support and promote the use of evidence-based heart failure pharmacotherapy in complex, older adults. In total, 11 articles were selected: 4 meta-analyses, 6 post hoc analyses and 1 review paper. No attenuation of efficacy for any of the foundational agents was found in older adults. Regarding safety, dedicated analyses showed that beta blockers, mineraloid receptor antagonists, sacubitril-valsartan, dapagliflozin and empagliflozin retained their overall benefit-risk profile regardless of age. Time to benefit was short and occurred generally within 1 month. Consensus was achieved on a five-step proposal to manage complex medication regimens in older adults suffering from heart failure. In conclusion, older adults suffering from heart failure with a reduced ejection fraction should not be denied treatment based on their age.