Drugs & Aging

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 289–300 | Cite as

Diuretic Therapy in Elderly Heart Failure Patients With and Without Left Ventricular Systolic Dysfunction

  • Dave J. W. van Kraaij
  • René W. M. M. Jansen
  • Frank W. J. Gribnau
  • Willibrord H. L. Hoefnagels
Review Article


Long term prescription of diuretics for heart failure is very prevalent among elderly patients, although the rationale for such a treatment strategy is often unclear, as diuretics are not indicated if volume overload is absent. The concept of diastolic heart failure in the elderly might particularly change the role of diuretic therapy, since diuretics may have additional adverse effects in these patients. This paper reviews the effects of diuretic therapy in elderly patients with heart failure, emphasising the differences between patients with normal and decreased left ventricular systolic function. Studies on diuretic withdrawal in elderly patients with heart failure are discussed, with emphasis on issues involved in decision making such as diuretic dose reduction and withdrawal in elderly patients and factors that have been established to predict successful withdrawal. Existing guidelines on the prescription of diuretics in elderly patients with heart failure with normal and decreased left ventricular systolic function and in those with diastolic heart failure are also discussed. By reducing intravascular volume, diuretics may further impair ventricular diastolic filling in patients with diastolic heart failure and thus reduce stroke volume. Indeed, preliminary studies demonstrate that diuretics may provoke or aggravate hypotension on standing and after meals in these patients. Therefore, it is suggested that elderly patients with heart failure with intact left ventricular systolic function should not receive long term diuretic therapy, unless proven necessary to treat or prevent congestive heart failure. This implies that physicians should carefully evaluate the opportunities for diuretic dose tapering or withdrawal in all of these patients, and that a cautiously guided intermittent diuretic treatment modality may be critical in the care for older patients with heart failure with intact left ventricular systolic function.


Heart Failure Congestive Heart Failure Leave Ventricular Ejection Fraction Diuretic Therapy Intravascular Volume 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dave J. W. van Kraaij
    • 1
  • René W. M. M. Jansen
    • 1
  • Frank W. J. Gribnau
    • 2
  • Willibrord H. L. Hoefnagels
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geriatric MedicineUniversity Hospital NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Clinical PharmacologyUniversity Hospital NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands

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