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Elderly Treated Less Aggressively for Heart Attack

Hospitals less likely to follow guidelines for patients 80 and older, study finds

MONDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthDay News) -- While overall care of heart attack patients in the United States is good, gaps remain in the treatment of patients 80 and older, a new study suggests.

Researchers analyzed 2000-2009 data on 156,677 heart attack patients treated at 416 centers enrolled in the American Heart Association's "Get With the Guidelines -- Coronary Artery Disease" program.

The analysis revealed that 86 percent of patients aged 80 and older received early beta blocker therapy, compared with 90 percent of patients aged 64 or younger. Only 43 percent of patients 80 and older received balloon angioplasty within 90 minutes of hospital arrival, compared with 54 percent of younger patients.

Older patients had a far higher rate of in-hospital deaths (11.8 percent vs. 2.4 percent) and were less likely than younger ones to be taking statins when discharged from hospital (76 percent vs. 92 percent).

Co-existing health conditions were more common in the older patients than in the younger patients, noted Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow of the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center and colleagues.

The study, to be presented Monday at the American Heart Association's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., shows there is room to improve care and outcomes in older heart attack patients, the researchers said.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about heart attack treatments.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Nov. 16, 2009

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