WEDNESDAY, June 3, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Age shouldn't be a barrier to the use of coated stents, which appear to be safe and effective in heart patients aged 70 and older, say researchers who analyzed data on nearly 10,000 patients.
Stents are wire-mesh metal tubes inserted into an artery to keep it open.
In the new study, researchers in Boston found that elderly patients treated with these drug-coated stents had outcomes similar to younger patients, and that death rates among elderly patients with the paclitaxel-eluting stets were comparable to the general elderly population in the United States.
Patients older than 70 had many more risk factors -- such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, congestive heart failure and prior bypass surgery -- but their rates of heart attack, stent thrombosis and repeat treatment during follow-up were similar to those of younger patients, the study found.
Patients older than 70 treated with a bare-metal stent or a paclitaxel-eluting stent had similar outcomes, but those with drug-eluting stents were 54 percent less likely to require repeat treatments, the researchers report in the study released online Tuesday in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions.
"The elderly constitute an expanding population segment, and since the risk of coronary artery disease increases with age, the number of elderly patients seeking treatment is on the rise. Advanced age alone should not be taken as a contraindication to percutaneous intervention using paclitaxel-eluting stents in elderly patients," lead author Dr. Daniel E. Forman, director of cardiac rehabilitation and the exercise testing laboratory at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said in a news release from the American Heart Association.
"This study extends our knowledge about drug-eluting stent outcomes in the aged population and demonstrates that the paclitaxel-eluting stent is as safe in elderly patients who have indications for invasive treatment, as in their younger counterparts," Forman said.
The American Heart Association has more about how stents are used.