Use of Diuretics in the Treatment of Heart Failure in the Elderly455

Domenic A. Sica, Todd W.B. Gehr, and William H. Frishman

Diuretics are tools of considerable therapeutic importance. First, they effectively reduce blood pressure, while at the same time decreasing the morbidity and mortality associated with hypertension. Diuretics are currently recommended as first-line therapy for the treatment of hypertension. In addition, they remain an important component of heart failure therapy, in that they improve the symptoms of congestion, which typify the more advanced stages of heart failure. This article reviews the mode of action of the various diuretic classes and the physiologic adaptations that follow; sets up the basis for their use in the treatment of volume-retaining states, particularly as applies to the elderly; and reviews diuretic-related side effects that are normally encountered.

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