Research Article

Elderly and younger patients selected to undergo coronary angiography.

BMJ 1991; 303 doi: (Published 19 October 1991) Cite this as: BMJ 1991;303:950
  1. A T Elder,
  2. T R Shaw,
  3. C M Turnbull,
  4. I R Starkey
  1. Department of Geriatric Medicine, City Hospital, Edinburgh.


    OBJECTIVE--To establish and compare the characteristics of older (greater than or equal to 70 years) and younger patients with chest pain selected to undergo coronary angiography and by analysis of their subsequent management to assess the value of coronary angiography for older patients with chest pain. DESIGN--Retrospective analysis of clinical case notes and coronary angiography reports. SETTING--Cardiology department with referral population of one million in an Edinburgh hospital. PATIENTS--134 consecutive patients with chest pain aged 70 years or over investigated by coronary angiography between 1978 and 1988; 134 randomly selected patients aged under 70 investigated over the same period. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Clinical and angiographic features at time of angiography and management after angiography. RESULTS--Older patients represented a small, but increasing, proportion of those investigated. Older patients had more severe symptoms at the time of angiography, were taking more antianginal drugs, and had had their symptoms for longer than younger patients. At angiography more older patients had triple vessel coronary disease, left main stem stenosis, or left ventricular impairment. After angiography similar proportions of older and younger patients underwent coronary artery surgery, with more elderly patients requiring urgent operation; although operative mortality was higher for elderly patients, symptomatic benefit was similar to that in younger patients. CONCLUSIONS--Older patients with angina selected to undergo coronary angiography and subsequent coronary surgery have more severe symptoms and underlying cardiac disease. Earlier referral and investigation might yield a population with lower operative risk. Selection of patients for coronary angiography and coronary artery surgery should be based on the potential for benefit and should avoid "agism."