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Physicians May Test, Treat Elderly with Angina Differently

Older patients less likely than younger patients to have additional tests or procedures

FRIDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) -- About half of primary care physicians and specialists treat elderly patients with angina differently from younger patients, and are more likely to recommend changing medication and less likely to refer them to a cardiologist or conduct additional tests, according to the results of a U.K. study published in the February issue of Quality and Safety in Health Care.

Clare Harries, Ph.D., and colleagues from University College London in the United Kingdom surveyed 85 general practitioners, elderly care specialists and cardiologists regarding their testing and treatment decisions for 72 fictional patients with angina.

About half of the physicians, regardless of specialty, gender or years of training, treated patients over 65 years of age differently than younger patients. Elderly patients were less likely to be referred to a cardiologist, prescribed a statin if their cholesterol was high, or given an exercise tolerance test, angiography or revascularization. They were more likely than younger patients to have their medication changed and told to come back for a follow-up visit.

"Age, independent of comorbidity, presentation and patients' wishes, directly influenced decision-making about angina investigation and treatment by half of the doctors in the primary and secondary care samples," Harries and colleagues conclude.

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