Heart failure (HF) ranks among the most costly chronic diseases in developed countries. At present these countries devote 1-2% of all healthcare expenditures towards HF. In the US, these costs are estimated at $US30.2 billion for 2007. The burden of HF is greatest among the elderly, with 80% of HF hospitalizations and 90% of HF-related deaths in this cohort. As a result, approximately three-quarters of the resources for HF care are consumed by elderly patients. As demographic shifts increase the number of elderly individuals in both developed and developing nations, the resources devoted to HF care will likely further increase. Hospitalization accounts for roughly two-thirds of HF costs, but procedures, outpatient visits and medications also consume significant financial resources. HF also adversely impacts patient quality of life, and these relevant effects may not be captured in pure cost analyses. The cost effectiveness of several pharmacological interventions has been explored. In general, neurohormonal antagonists used for outpatient treatment of chronic HF are relatively cost effective, in part by reducing hospitalizations. Because HF poses such an enormous financial burden, efficient resource allocation for its management is a major societal and governmental challenge. In order to make informed decisions and allocate resources for HF care rationally, detailed data regarding costs and resource use will be essential. Further studies are needed to examine the impact of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions on costs and resource use in elderly individuals with HF.
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