Elderly patients with heart failure are at risk of postprandial hypotension (PPH), orthostatic hypotension (OH), and concomitant cerebral oxygenation changes because of altered cardiovascular balance and the use of cardiovascular medications, such as furosemide and captopril. In 24 patients with heart failure (New York Heart Association class II to III, in stable condition, and receiving cardiovascular medication [aged 70 to 83 years]), blood pressure (BP) was measured by Finapres, and cortical concentrations of oxyhemoglobin and deoxyhemoglobin were measured using near-infrared spectroscopy during standing and after a 292-kcal carbohydrate meal. Tests were performed before and during therapy with furosemide 40 mg once daily (n = 11) or captopril 6.25 and 12.5 mg twice daily (n = 13) in a double-blind randomized trial. Before treatment, 13 of 24 patients had PPH, and 2 of 24 patients had OH. The first dose of furosemide significantly decreased postprandial systolic BP (p <0.05) and postprandial frontal cortical oxygenation (p <0.05), whereas the first dose of captopril did not. Furosemide and captopril did not significantly affect postprandial or orthostatic BP or cortical oxygenation after 2 weeks of treatment. Thus, PPH is a common phenomenon in elderly patients with heart failure, whereas OH is not. The first dose of furosemide 40 mg decreased postprandial systolic BP and frontal cortical oxygenation, in contrast with the first dose of captopril 6.25 mg and 2-week treatment with furosemide 40 mg once daily or captopril 12.5 mg twice daily. These findings indicate that initiating furosemide treatment worsens PPH, and furosemide is less safe in elderly patients with heart failure. © 2002 by Excerpta Medica, Inc.