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Octogenarians can be good candidates for heart surgery

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Published: 28 Oct 2008

Open-heart surgery should remain a viable treatment option for people in their 80s, according to experts at the MUHC

Open-heart surgery should remain a viable treatment option for people in their 80s, according to experts at the MUHC.

Patients 80 years and older who are in overall good health are perfectly able to withstand open-heart surgery, according to the latest study led by the cardiac surgeons of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). Their findings were presented this morning in Toronto during the 2008 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress.

“Age should not be a reason for doctors to rule out the possibility of heart surgery for their octogenarian patients,” explained Dr. de Varennes. “If patients with heart problems are otherwise in good health, this surgery can significantly improve their quality of life.”

This study conclusion is based on the follow-up of 185 patients who underwent open-heart surgery at the MUHC for a cardiac valve replacement. Five years after the operation, 60% of these patients were still alive and 90% of the survivors were leading active and independent lives. “This outcome is extremely positive,” said Dr. Chaturvedi. “It proves that age alone should not be a factor in ruling out this type of surgery: feasibility must be assessed by a surgeon based on the patient’s overall state of health.”

Quality of life is a major concern for octogenarians, a growing segment of the Quebec population. It is therefore important to evaluate all possible treatments according to each patient's specific needs and limitations in order to provide everyone with the best possible care. “Pediatricians account for children’s specific needs, as they differ from those of adults. The elderly also have specific issues that must be objectively assessed and not considered based on pre-conceived notions,” explained Dr. Lachapelle.

Dr. Kevin Lachapelle is a cardiac surgeon at the MUHC as well as a researcher in the Cardiovascular Diseases and Critical Care Axis of the Research Institute of the MUHC. He is also an Associate Professor in Surgery at the Faculty of Medicine of McGill University.

Dr Rakesh Chaturvedi is a clinical research associate in the Division of cardiac surgery at the MUHC.

Dr Benoit de Varennes is the Clinical Director of the Department of cardiac surgery at the MUHC, and a researcher with the “Cardiovascular diseases and critical care” axis of the Research Institute of the MUHC. He also is an Associate Professor of surgery at McGill University’s Faculty of medicine.

The McGill University Health Centre
The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programs, research and teaching. Its partner hospitals are the Montreal Children's Hospital, the Montreal General Hospital, the Royal Victoria Hospital, the Montreal Neurological Hospital, the Montreal Chest Institute and the Lachine Hospital. The goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field and to contribute to the development of new knowledge. www.muhc.ca

The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) is a world-renowned biomedical and health-care hospital research centre. Located in Montreal, Quebec, the institute is the research arm of the MUHC, the university health center affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. The institute supports over 600 researchers, nearly 1200 graduate and post-doctoral students and operates more than 300 laboratories devoted to a broad spectrum of fundamental and clinical research. The Research Institute operates at the forefront of knowledge, innovation and technology and is inextricably linked to the clinical programs of the MUHC, ensuring that patients benefit directly from the latest research-based knowledge.
The Research Institute of the MUHC is supported in part by the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec.
For further details visit: www.muhc.ca/research.

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Contact: Isabelle Kling
Organization: Communications Coordinator (research) - MUHC Public Relations and Communications
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