Purpose — To review trends in drug therapy and concomitant outcomes of elderly heart failure patients in Ontario, Canada.
Methods — 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.
Results — 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.
Conclusion — 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.