Elderly Treatment Questioned

When someone experiences a heart attack, he or she are often given medicine called thrombolytic therapy to dissolve blood clots. New guidelines have encouraged the use of this therapy more and more. However, a new study finds thrombolytic therapy may not be as beneficial for patients older than 75 as once thought.

When a patient receives thrombolytic therapy, the blood flow to the heart increases, which improves the oxygen level to the heart and often relieves the symptoms. However, the medicine can also increase the risk of bleeding.

More than 2,600 heart attack patients were included in the study. Researchers from Harvard Medical School reviewed the records of the patients, all of whom were admitted to the hospital between 1992 and 1996. Researchers recorded who received thrombolytic therapy, their age and their recovery.

Sixty-three percent of patients who met the criteria received thrombolytic therapy. Researchers found patients who received the therapy had fewer and less severe problems than those who did not receive the therapy, however the older the patient the more serious the complications. Specifically, the study reports a 4-percent increase in the odds of death for every one-year increase in age.

Overall, the study confirms the benefits of thrombolytic therapy in younger patients who meet the criteria for treatment. Researchers add their findings raise concerns about the benefits of this treatment in those over 75. While further research needs to be done on this, researchers say for now doctors need to reassess the use of thrombolytic therapy in older patients.

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