Exp Gerontol. 2021 Sep 18:111559. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2021.111559. Online ahead of print.
Heart failure (HF) with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) is the most rapidly increasing form of HF, occurs primarily in older women, and is associated with high rates of morbidity, mortality, and health care expenditures. In the highest age decile (≥90 years old), nearly all patients with HFpEF. As our understanding of the disease has grown in the last few years, we now know that HFpEF is a systemic disorder influenced by aging processes. The involvement of this broad collection of abnormalities in HFpEF, the recognition of the high frequency and impact of noncardiac comorbidities, and systemic, multiorgan involvement, and its nearly exclusive existence in older persons, has led to the recognition of HFpEF as a true geriatric syndrome. Most of the conventional therapeutics used in other cardiac diseases have failed to improve HFpEF patient outcomes significantly. Several recent studies have evaluated exercise training (ET) as a therapeutic management strategy in patients with HFpEF. Although these studies were not designed to address clinical endpoints, such as HF hospitalizations and mortality, they have shown that ET is a safe and effective intervention to improve peak oxygen consumption, physical function, and quality of life in clinically stable HF patients. Recently, a progressive, multidomain physical rehabilitation study among older adults showed that it is feasible in older patients with acute decompensated HF who have high frailty and comorbidities and showed improvement in physical function. However, the lack of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services coverage can be a major barrier to formal cardiac rehabilitation in older HFpEF patients. Unfortunately, insistence upon demonstration of mortality improvement before approving reimbursement overlooks the valuable and demonstrated benefits of physical function and life quality.