In a new study, researchers found that clearing arteries after a heart attack could help save patients’ lives.
The procedure is a percutaneous coronary intervention or PCI.
The study was conducted by a team at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
PCI is a medical procedure in which a catheter with a deflated balloon on its tip is passed into the narrowed artery segment.
The balloon is inflated and the narrowed segment widened. After that, the balloon is deflated, a stent is deployed at the site of the narrow segment, and the catheter is removed.
Previous research has shown that PCI is safe, feasible and can improve survival and well-being in younger adults who have a heart attack.
Heart attack patients 75 years and older were less likely to receive this procedure to open blocked arteries.
This is because older patients may have more complex medical needs, and may have frailty, multiple chronic conditions, cognitive impairment and use multiple medications.
And little is known about whether it’s beneficial to perform PCI in these patients.
The current study shows that if these people can have the procedure, they may live longer.
In the study, the team examined medical records of nearly 470,000 older patients with a first heart attack from 2000 to 2016.
They found that patients aged 85 and older were most likely to have other diseases when admitted for their first heart attack. PCI was performed in 20% of them and the death risk decreased by 42%.
In people aged 75- to 79, PCI was performed in 38% of them. The death risk decreased by 49%.
In people aged 80- to 84, PCI was performed in 33% of them. The death risk decreased by 53%.
The findings suggest that PCI could help improve survival in older patients.
The team suggests that the procedure should be performed in older patients even though this is it is an invasive intervention.
Future work needs to examine how PCI could benefit older adults with complexities such as frailty, multiple chronic conditions cognitive dysfunction and multiple medications.
The lead author of the study is Abdulla A. Damluji, M.D., M.P.H., an Assistant Professor.
The study is published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions, an American Heart Association journal.
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