We have studied retrospectively 106 patients aged 69 years or older (range 69 to 79) who underwent cardiac surgery between November 1986 and December 1989. The majority of patients (61%) were male. Coronary artery bypass surgery was performed in 59 patients, isolated valve replacement in 38 and combined valve replacement with coronary artery bypass surgery in 5. Two patients underwent ascending aorta replacement for aortic dissection and 2 ventricular aneurysmectomy and postinfarction ventricular septal defect repair. The mean postoperative hospital stay was 12 days. Ninety-one percent of patients underwent a primary elective operation and 9% required an emergency operation. Hospital mortality was 5% (n = 6). All hospital survivors were followed up by telephone contact (mean follow-up: 37 months) to determine presence or absence of chest pain, dyspnea, postoperative NYHA class and the overall effect of surgery on quality of life. There were 16 follow-up deaths; 5 were non cardiac. Follow-up study showed significant improvement in symptom status and quality of life (96%). We concluded that cardiac surgery in the elderly, although associated with increased operative risk, gives excellent relief of symptoms and good survival.
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