L'angioplastica coronarica nei pazienti anziani

Translated title of the contribution: Percutaneous coronary interventions in the elderly

Francesco Liistro, Antonio Colombo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Developed nations are experiencing an unprecedented growth in the number of elderly citizens. Thanks to the modernization of both society and medical care, over the past century, life expectancy in most countries has nearly doubled. The elderly (80 years or over) represent the fastest-growing segment of our population. Owing to their age, the elderly are more afflicted with chronic diseases, including coronary artery disease. Recently, clinicians became more aggressive in the use of invasive cardiovascular diagnostic tests in these patients. With regard to younger patients, we have a wealth of data from large, randomized trials that defined which subsets of patients benefit from revascularization therapies. However, because the very elderly were severely underrepresented in these randomized studies, we have almost no information concerning the choice of treatment in these patients. Initial results of percutaneous revascularization procedures in elderly patients come from retrospective analysis performed during the pre-stent era. In these studies a procedural mortality risk 5-fold higher in patients > 80 years compared with those <60 is reported. With the advent of coronary stenting, a significant increase in the rate of procedural success and a reduction in the incidence of procedural mortality, acute myocardial infarction and emergency coronary artery bypass grafting were observed also in the elderly. These initial positive results prompted physicians to treat patients with impaired clinical conditions and with unfavorable angiographic characteristics, resulting in a long-term freedom from major adverse cardiac events comparable to those observed in younger patients (78% in patients <70 years vs 75% in patients > 80 years). The comparison between the percutaneous approach and the surgical approach to coronary artery disease in the elderly has its major limitation in the lack of data from randomized trials. The available information suggests similar results with the two different strategies (5-year survival rate: 85.7% for the coronary artery bypass grafting group vs 81.4% for the percutaneous revascularization group) with a clear benefit in favor of surgery only in diabetic patients. The only constant difference is the need of a repeat intervention which is significantly higher for the percutaneous approach. Furthermore, the introduction of newer percutaneous devices suitable for the recanalization of totally occluded coronary arteries could increase the completeness of the revascularization achieved with the percutaneous approach with a positive effect on the long-term outcome. These considerations could be "out of time" if the results obtained with the use of drug-eluting stents observed in selected patient populations will be confirmed in larger trials and in routine clinical practice. Whereas the advantages of the percutaneous versus the surgical approach in the elderly have not been fully clarified in patients with stable or unstable angina, primary angioplasty appears to be a very promising strategy in old patients with acute myocardial infarction. The improved clinical success with percutaneous revascularization in the elderly (acute mortality in patients > 85 years: 28.4% reperfused vs 385% not reperfused; p = 0.001) has to be related to the use of stents and to IIb/IIIa antagonists. In conclusion, when an old patient needs myocardial revascularization, the percutaneous approach should, in our opinion, be considered the treatment of choice in subjects either with stable or unstable angina and in those with acute myocardial infarction. At present, surgical revascularization provides better results in diabetic patients. The advent of drug-eluting stents may change many of the current limitations of percutaneous revascularization and further expand the use of this strategy.

Translated title of the contributionPercutaneous coronary interventions in the elderly
Original languageItalian
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalItalian Heart Journal Supplement
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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