Chronic heart failure (CHF) is found in 1.5%-2.0% of Australians. Considered rare in people aged less than 45 years, its prevalence increases to over 10% in people aged >/= 65 years. CHF is one of the most common reasons for hospital admission and general practitioner consultation in the elderly (>/= 70 years). Common causes of CHF are ischaemic heart disease (present in > 50% of new cases), hypertension (about two-thirds of cases) and idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (around 5%-10% of cases). Diagnosis is based on clinical features, chest x-ray and objective measurement of ventricular function (eg, echocardiography). Plasma levels of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) may have a role in diagnosis, primarily as a test for exclusion. Diagnosis may be strengthened by a beneficial clinical response to treatment(s) directed towards amelioration of symptoms. Management involves prevention, early detection, amelioration of disease progression, relief of symptoms, minimisation of exacerbations, and prolongation of survival.