Older heart patients need personalized preventive care
American Heart Association Scientific Statement
October 28, 2013Statement Highlights:
- Healthcare providers should personalize preventive care for cardiovascular disease patients age 75 and older.
- Benefits of preventive strategies must be balanced with the risks and tradeoffs of various interventions for older patients.
- Patients should be involved in the decision-making process.
DALLAS, Oct. 28, 2013 — Strategies to prevent heart attack, stroke and other major cardiac events should be individualized for older adults who should play a role in choosing their therapies, according to an American Heart Association scientific statement published in its journal Circulation.
The statement is a comprehensive review of the benefits and risks of medical and lifestyle interventions for cardiovascular disease patients age 75 and older. It addresses obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, inadequate nutrition, physical inactivity and tobacco use. It also includes the value of cardiac rehabilitation, revascularization techniques and implantable cardioverter defibrillators.
“Preventive care should not be set aside simply because you’re getting older,” said Daniel Forman, M.D., co-lead author of the statement and director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
The statement is published at a critical time when about 6 percent of the U.S. population (about 18.6 million) is 75 and older. That percentage is expected to double by 2050. More people are living with cardiovascular disease, but many are not receiving evidence-based therapies.
Statement highlights include:
- While some interventions result in modest survival gains in older people, they provide other benefits. For example, weight loss may not lower the risk for a cardiovascular event, but it can improve mobility, blood sugar control and arthritic pain.
- Doctors must consider drug interactions, adherence, medication costs and other consequences for older patients who take multiple medications for heart-related and other conditions.
- Patient preferences should be carefully evaluated. Some older patients may prefer to live with an increased risk of a cardiovascular event rather than make lifestyle changes or undergo procedures late in life.
- Healthcare providers should ask patients if they’re using “alternative medicine” products, such as herbs, foods or nutrition supplements. Clinical trials have not supported their use, but it’s common among older patients and can have negative interactions with prescription drugs.
- More research to clarify which lifestyle changes, medication regimens and revascularization and device strategies provide the greatest benefits and fewest risks.
- Better risk assessment tools to determine which patients are most likely to benefit from preventive therapy.
- Improved health literacy among older adults to ensure they understand the advantages, burdens and limitations of care.
Co-chair: Jerome L. Fleg, M.D.; co-authors are Kathy Berra, B.S.; Vera Bittner, M.D., M.P.H.; James A. Blumenthal, Ph.D.; Michael A. Chen, M.D., Ph.D.; Susan Cheng, M.D.; Dalane W. Kitzman, M.D.; Mathew S. Maurer, M.D.; Michael W. Rich, M.D.; Win-Kuang Shen, M.D.; Mark A. Williams, Ph.D.; and Susan J. Zieman, M.D., Ph.D.
For the latest heart and stroke news, follow us on Twitter: @HeartNews.
For updates and new science from Circulation, follow @CircAHA.
###The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association receives funding mostly from individuals. Foundations and corporations donate as well, and fund specific programs and events. Strict policies are enforced to prevent these relationships from influencing the association’s science content. Financial information for the American Heart Association, including a list of contributions from pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers, is available at www.heart.org/corporatefunding.
Darcy Spitz: (212) 878-5940 ; Darcy.Spitz@heart.org
Julie Del Barto (broadcast): (214) 706-1330; Julie.DelBarto@heart.org
For Public Inquiries: (800) AHA-USA1 (242-8721)