Author(s): Charlson E, Legedza AT, Hamel MB
BACKGROUND AND AIM OF THE STUDY: Aortic stenosis (AS) remains the most common valvular disease of the elderly in the United States. Though valve replacement has proven effective among older adults, decision-making regarding surgery is difficult for these patients and their physicians. Herein, the clinical outcomes and decision-making process for elderly patients with severe symptomatic AS was assessed. METHODS: A retrospective cohort study of patients aged > or = 60 years with severe AS was conducted at two large urban teaching hospitals. Severe AS was defined by a mean valve gradient > or = 50 mmHg or valve area < 0.8 cm2 by echocardiogram, and associated symptoms (angina, congestive heart failure, dyspnea, fatigue, or exercise intolerance). Demographic and clinical data and information about decision-making were obtained from inpatient and outpatient medical records. RESULTS: Of the 124 patients studied, 49 (39.5%) had aortic valve replacement (AVR) surgery. In a logistic regression analysis adjusting for gender, comorbidity and baseline functional status, those patients aged < 80 years were significantly more likely to have surgery than older patients. Surgery was associated with a large reduction in mortality in all age groups. At one-year follow up, 87.8% of all patients (87.5% of those aged > or = 80 years) who had undergone surgery were alive, while only 54.7% (49.1% of those aged > or = 80 years) who did not receive surgery were alive. Postoperative complications were similar among older and younger elderly patients. Comorbidity and age were the most common reasons for not offering elderly patients valve replacement. CONCLUSION: The results of the present study showed that AVR surgery improves the survival of elderly patients with severe AS, and patients aged > 80 years experience benefits similar to younger patients. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that surgery may not always be offered to elderly patients who might benefit from it.