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The Elderly Can Be Candidates for Angioplasty, Stenting
Date:3/18/2008

Those 80 and older may not need to be hospitalized, study says

TUESDAY, March 18 (HealthDay News) -- People over 80 can safely have diagnostic radiology tests and procedures such as artery-opening angioplasty without being hospitalized for their safety, a new study finds.

"The conventional wisdom has been that not only interventional procedures, but also drug trials, might not be safe for people over 80," said Dr. George G. Hartnell, a radiology professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, who was to report the study results Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology, in Washington, D.C. "The point of our paper was to prove that age by itself was not a risk factor."

Hartnell and his colleagues at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., compared the results for such procedures in 64 people 80 and older -- average age 85.1 -- with the same procedures done for 205 people between the ages of 50 and 79.

In the older group, 20 had diagnostic arteriography, an X-ray examination of blood vessels; 20 had angioplasty to open a blocked artery; and 31 had stents placed in arteries. Complications were minimal -- one apparent aneurysm, a weakening of the artery wall that turned out to be nonexistent, and three hematomas that did not require treatment. None of the older people had to be hospitalized.

Complications were about as rare in the younger group, with one hospitalization for a hematoma, an abnormal accumulation of blood, and one for worsening artery blockage.

"My institution several years ago tended to keep these people [over age 80] in the hospital overnight," Hartnell said. "That is much less common now."

Still, he added, "many people are hesitant to do these procedures on the elderly without hospitalization. But hospitals are dangerous places to be. The longer you are in a hospital, the greater the chance that something might happen."

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