Feature Article

Comorbidities in heart failure





Patients with heart failure can present with a challenging array of comorbid medical conditions. GPs have an important role in recognising and managing these, to ensure that heart failure therapies are not compromised and that only necessary medications are prescribed.
This article was first published in the the Medicine Today supplement Focus on heart failure in October 2019.

Key Points

  • Heart failure (HF) disproportionately affects people over the age of 70 years, many of whom will have comorbid medical conditions.
  • Comorbid disease should be actively sought, and appropriate diagnoses and management established.
  • The presence of comorbidities may complicate the treatment of HF; for example, stringent efforts should be made to use HF medications with mortality benefits, such as beta blockers, in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • The presence of HF may also complicate the treatment of comorbid disease, and steps should be taken to avoid or minimise use of medications that precipitate HF, such as NSAIDs.
  • Improved awareness of the treatment of comorbidities can improve the quality of life and prognosis of patients with HF.