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Angina Treatments Weighed in Elderly

Study Shows Similar Long-Term Survival Rates
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WebMD Health News

Aug. 30, 2004 -- When it comes to treating chest pain, or angina, in people aged 75 or older, heart surgery and medication have similar long-term survival rates, according to a new study in the journal Circulation.

The finding comes from the Trial of Invasive versus Medical Therapy in the Elderly (TIME), which was headed by cardiologist Matthias Pfisterer, MD, of University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland.

Angina occurs when a buildup of plaque narrows the heart arteries and blocks blood flow that feeds the heart. Angina is a sign that you are at risk for a heart attack.

The TIME team divided 300 elderly patients, all of whom were at least 75 when the study started, into two groups: those receiving surgery for angina and those receiving medication. Forty-two percent were women.

After six months, most people from both groups were still alive (about 91% of those who had surgery and almost 96% of those given medication).

After one year, 276 patients were still alive, including about 90% of the surgery group and almost 94% of the medication group.

The two groups also had similar survival rates around five years after treatment. About 71% of the surgery group and 73% of the medication group were still alive at that point.

During the study, there were no significant differences between the groups in heart attack deaths; however, patients assigned to treatment with medications had almost twice as many nonfatal heart attacks and hospitalizations.

Overall, almost two out of every five surgery patients remained free of any major heart-related event or angina during the study, compared with only one in five of the patients treated with medication.

The findings should help elderly patients and their doctors weigh angina treatment options, say the researchers.

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