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Researchers investigate heart attack treatments in the elderly

Newcastle researchers have been awarded £1.7m to investigate heart attack treatments for patients over 75.

A clinical trial supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) will investigate if current UK practices are in line with the needs of our ageing population, by finding the most suitable way to treat patients aged 75 and over who have had a heart attack.

Researchers at Newcastle University and the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have received £1.7million from the British Heart Foundation to lead the clinical trial.

Biggest Killer

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the UK’s single biggest killer and the leading cause of death worldwide. CHD is responsible for nearly 70,000 deaths in the UK each year and most of these deaths are caused by a heart attack.

Although there have been advances in how CHD is treated, little research has been carried out to look at how best to treat patients over 75 years old despite the fact that 50% of heart attacks happen in patients aged 72 and over.

Dr Vijay Kunadian, Senior Lecturer at Newcastle University and Honorary Consultant Interventional Cardiologist at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital is the chief investigator responsible for the clinical trial across the country.

Dr Kunadian said: “There is much debate and conflicting views amongst clinicians and cardiologists about how to treat patients over 75 years old who present with a heart attack due to lack of definitive evidence as older patients are often excluded from clinical research.

“As people are now living longer and longer it's really important we carry out this research to identify how best to treat these patients to ensure they receive the best care available and enhance their chances of survival.”

Currently 86% of older patients (85 and over) who have a heart attack are given medication to treat their condition rather than combined treatment involving medication and a procedure known as a coronary angioplasty, which clears blockages in the heart arteries using a balloon and a metal scaffold, known as a stent. This is compared to 17% of patients aged 18 to 65 years old demonstrating huge disparity in treatments based on age.

Many clinicians believe older patients are frail, have a lower chance of survival and are more likely to have complications after heart procedures, however this is based purely on perception rather than evidence based research. 

For the full article please visit the Newcastle University website.

Published on 14th September 2017

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