Journal of Geriatric Cardiology 2012/9:2 PP.192-196
The increasing population in older age will lead to greater numbers of them presenting with acute coronary syndromes (ACS). This has implications on global healthcare resources and necessitates better management and selection for evidenced-based therapies. The elderly are a high risk group with more significant treatment benefits than younger ACS. Nevertheless, age related inequalities in ACS care are recognised and persist. This discrepancy in care, to some extent, is explained by the higher frequency of atypical and delayed presentations in the elderly, and less diagnostic electrocardiograms at presentation, potentiating a delay in ACS diagnosis. Under estimation of mortality risk in the elderly due to limited consideration for physiological frailty, co-morbidity, cognitive/psychological impairment and physical disability, less input by cardiology specialists and lack of randomised, controlled trials data to guide management in the elderly may further confound the inequality of care. While these inequalities exist, there remains a substantial opportunity to improve age related ACS outcomes. The selection of elderly patients for specific therapies and medication regimens are unanswered. There is a growing need for randomised, controlled trial data to be more representative of the population and enroll those of advanced age with co-morbidity. A lack of reporting of adverse events, such as renal impairment post coronary angiography, in the elderly further limit risk benefit decisions. Substantial improvements in care of elderly ACS patients are required and should be advocated. Ultimately, these improvements are likely to lead to better outcomes post ACS. However, the improvement in outcome is not infinite and will be limited by non-modifiable factors of age-related risk.
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