Heart Failure in Australia

Heart failure occurs when the heart begins to function less effectively in pumping blood around the body. It can occur suddenly, although it usually develops slowly as the heart gradually becomes weaker. Heart failure can result from a variety of diseases and conditions that impair or overload the heart. These include heart attack, high blood pressure, damaged heart valves or cardiomyopathy.


Every day, heart failure claims the lives of eight Australians and it’s the number one cause of hospitalisation in people over age 65. In 2018-19, 73,022 hospitalisations were the result of heart failure, with an estimated annual cost to the Australian health system of $3.1 billion.

In 2019, 4,538 Australians died from heart failure and it was an associated cause in a further 19,500 deaths.

Heart Failure and Frailty

Frailty and heart failure frequently coexist, exacerbating each other’s impact and resulting in poorer outcomes. Despite this, many frail heart failure patients do not receive guideline-recommended treatments due to perceived risks. Transitioning from single-disciplinary to multidisciplinary care is urgently needed to address this gap and improve healthcare practices. However, the absence of evidence-based care models and treatments for frail heart failure patients persists, partly due to their exclusion from clinical trials.


Overcoming barriers such as stigma and bias is crucial to ensuring these patients receive appropriate care. Assessing frailty is essential for identifying individuals who may benefit from interventions to improve their well-being and reduce adverse health outcomes, yet there is currently no consensus on when or how to measure frailty. Despite evidence suggesting benefits, programs like prehabilitation for high-risk, frail heart surgery patients are not widely implemented, highlighting the need for standardised approaches in this area.


To address this national issue, the ACvA held a National Frailty and Heart Failure Workshop. The aim was to convene leading experts in cardiology, cardiovascular research, and geriatrics to address pressing issues surrounding frailty and heart failure. The workshop sought to establish ambitious goals that would drive transformative improvements in outcomes for patients affected by both frailty and heart failure.


The Frailty and Heart Failure Clinical Theme is Co-Chaired by Dr Julee McDonagh and Professor Caleb Ferguson.

Project Contact

Professor Jamie Vandenberg | j.vandenberg@victorchang.edu.au

Dr Catherine Shang | catherine.shang@ozheart.org