This study reviews trends in drug therapy and concomitant outcomes of elderly heart failure patients in Ontario, Canada.
Utilization of drug therapies, mortality, and rehospitalization rates from April 1992 to March 2000 were determined in 77,421 elderly (aged >/=65 years), community-based heart failure patients using linked administrative databases. Treatment effects were identified from published meta-analyses and randomized trials. The effect of drug trends on mortality and morbidity were assessed based on their absolute treatment effects.
From 1992 to 2000, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker use increased from 58% to 62% (P = 0.001) while beta-blocker use increased from 6% to 22% (P <0.001). There was a decrease in the use of treatments for which no survival advantage had been demonstrated in randomized trials, such as digitalis (49% to 35%, P <0.001), Vaughan-Williams class I antiarrhythmic agents (3.5% to 1.4%, P <0.001), and first-generation calcium antagonists (21.3% to 9.6%, P <0.001). The trends in drug therapy were associated with a 2.8% reduction in age-, sex-, and comorbidity-adjusted 1-year mortality and a 4.1% reduction in 1-year hospitalization rates. The observed trends in therapy over time explained 37% of the decrease in mortality and 30% of the decrease in rehospitalization rates. The treatment effect from beta-blockers was most pronounced, explaining 30% of the decrease in mortality and 10% of the decrease in rehospitalization rates.
During 1992 to 2000, mortality and morbidity improved among elderly patients with heart failure, with increased utilization of beta-blockers contributing most to the beneficial trends in outcomes.