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Some Elderly Heart Failure Patients Get Little Help From Meds, Study Finds
Date:3/12/2009

Experts say new drugs and guidelines are needed to treat diastolic dysfunction,,,,

THURSDAY, March 12 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly people suffering from a type of heart disease called diastolic heart failure do not seem to benefit from the commonly prescribed heart failure drugs, researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles report.

As the population in the United States ages, more elderly people are being treated for heart failure. But even though they make up the majority of those treated for the disease, little is known about the effectiveness of treatment, researchers say.

"We really don't have many data on heart failure patients above the age of 80," said lead researcher Dr. Ernst R. Schwarz, medical director of the Cardiac Support Program and co-director of the Heart Transplant Program at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute.

In their study, the researchers looked at elderly people with diastolic dysfunction. In this condition, the systolic function of the heart is normal. "That means their pump function is normal, but their relaxation is impaired," Schwarz explained.

Diastolic dysfunction is common, affecting 50 percent of all heart failure patients, Schwarz said. It is highly prevalent among the elderly and among women, but often it is not diagnosed and not effectively treated, he said.

"We really don't know how to treat these patients because the guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology are based on systolic heart failure," Schwarz said. "We do not have dedicated guidelines on the treatment of diastolic heart failure."

The report is published in the March 15 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

For the study, Schwarz's team studied 142 people with heart failure, who averaged 87 years old. During five years of follow-up, 69 percent of them died.

The researchers found that none of the usual
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