Are older patients with mechanical heart valves at increased risk?
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BACKGROUND: Controversy exists regarding the use of mechanical valves in older patients. Many authorities believe that the use of anticoagulants in the elderly is associated with an increased risk of warfarin-related complications. Therefore, we compared the results with mechanical valves in older patients to a cohort of younger patients. METHODS: Aortic (AVR) or mitral valve replacement (MVR) with a mechanical valve was performed in 1,245 consecutive patients who were followed prospectively. They were grouped by age (group 1, < or = 65 years; group 2, > 65 years). The study groups consisted of AVR (group 1, 459 patients; group 2, 323 patients) MVR (group 1, 313 patients; group 2, 150 patients). RESULTS: The average age for the groups was: AVR (group 1, 51 years; group 2, 70 years; p = 0.03) and MVR (group 1, 53 years; group 2, 70 years; p = 0.03). For AVR the incidence of thromboembolism was 0.050 (group 1) and 0.038 (group 2) (p = 0.37) and the actuarial freedom from thromboembolism was 83.0%+/-3.0% and 86.5%+/-1.0%, respectively (p = 0.13). The incidence of bleeding after AVR was 0.021 for group 1 and 0.028 for group 2 (p = 0.49). For MVR the incidence of thromboembolism was 0.059 for group 1 and 0.051 for group 2 (p = 0.75) and the actuarial freedom from thromboembolism was 78.8%+/-3.0% and 75.4%+/-8.7%, respectively (p = 0.71). The incidence of bleeding after MVR was 0.020 for group 1 and 0.027 for group 2 (p = 0.62). CONCLUSIONS: Mechanical valves perform well in selected older patients with no increased risk of bleeding or thromboembolism.
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