Use of medicines that may exacerbate heart failure in older adults: Therapeutic complexity of multimorbidity

Gillian Caughey, Sepehr Shakib, John D. Barratt, Elizabeth E. Roughead

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Background Multimorbidity is common in older patients with heart failure (HF), complicating therapeutic management and increasing the risk of harm. Objective This study sought to examine the prevalence of medicines for the treatment of comorbid conditions potentially associated with harm in older people, before and after HF hospitalization. Methods A retrospective cohort study of older people hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of HF over a 12-month period was conducted using administrative health claims data from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Australia. We exam-ined the prevalence of medicines that may exacerbate or worsen HF as defined by the American Heart Association (AHA) and Australian HF clinical guidelines, in the 30 days prior and 120 days before and after discharge for HF. Results A total of 4069 older adults were hospitalized for HF during the study period; almost 60% (n = 2435) received at least one medicine associated with an increased risk of harm before hospitalization, with the majority (66.7%, n = 1623) dispensed in the 30 days prior. A small but significant reduction after hospitalization was observed, but 56% (n = 1638) received at least one of these medicines after hospitalization (p = 0.001). Over one-quarter received two or more medicines before hospitalization, and this only reduced to 22% post-hospitalization (p < 0.0001). Conclusions Little change in the prescribing of potentially harmful medicines for HF was observed; 56% of older adults received at least one following hospitalization for HF, highlighting the therapeutic complexity of multimorbidity in HF. Use of the AHA list to facilitate identification of potentially harmful medicines, followed by prioritization of treatment goals and appropriate risk mitigation are needed to facilitate reduction in hospitalization for patients with HF with multimorbidity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number36
Pages (from-to)471-479
Number of pages9
JournalDrugs and Aging
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished or Issued - May 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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