Old age alone doesn't disqualify patients for heart transplant, study suggests

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Post-heart transplant survival among recipients aged 70 and older does not differ significantly from that of younger recipients, suggesting older age alone should not disqualify patients for the procedure, according to research findings published June 8 in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The study included 37,135 heart transplant patients. Of those, 806 were at least 70 years old. 

Among patients aged 70 and older, the overall post-transplant mortality rate at one year was 10.4 percent, and 19.2 percent five years post-transplant, findings showed. Researchers did not observe a significant difference in five-year mortality between older and younger patients after adjusting for kidney health, BMI and other factors. 

"Rising prevalence of congestive heart failure with age and our aging population demand a relook into the management of advanced heart failure in elderly individuals," said Abhishek Jaiswal, MD, lead study author and cardiologist at Hartford (Conn.) Hospital "Our data suggest that advanced age by itself should not be considered an ineligibility criteria for heart transplantation; however, careful selection of such patients is warranted."

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