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Too Old for a Bypass?

No. So why are the elderly turned down for heart surgery?

Happy Endings

Ultimately, Sternlieb says, his older patients may do better emotionally than their younger counterparts. Patients 80 and older spend less time anguishing over the surgery, require less hand-holding, and are not nearly so anxious about mortality, he says.

Albert Carlsen advises others his age: "If you need the operation, by golly, have it done. I'm very glad I did."

Alexander, the study author, sees his point. "As we're getting more experience and more knowledge about outcomes in this age group, we're finding there's no reason to exclude people offhand because of age."

Ann Japenga is a contributing editor to Health magazine and a former Los Angeles Times reporter. She lives in Palm Springs, Calif.

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