Purpose: To examine the impact of age upon the development of neurological and major systemic complications during or after carotid artery stenting.
Methods: We reviewed the complications that occurred in patients undergoing elective carotid stent implantation between September 1994 and August 1996. The study population was then divided into 3 groups according to age: > or = 80 (group A), 75 to 79 (group B), and < or = 74 (group C) years. The rates of death, major and minor stroke, and myocardial infarction were compared among the groups, as well as with the rates reported by the major carotid endarterectomy (CEA) trials.
Results: During the study period, 182 patients (216 vessels) were treated with carotid stenting. There were 19 (10.4%) complications: 1 (0.5%) death, 2 (1.1%) major strokes, 15 (8.2%) minor strokes, and 1 (0.5%) myocardial infarction. Neurological complications were clearly related to increased age with rates of 25.0% in group A versus 8.6% in group C (p = 0.042). The overall per patient rate of death or major stroke was 1.6% (1.4% per vessel).
Conclusions: Increasing age has a negative impact on the rate of complications in carotid stent patients. However, the majority of those complications are minor. The relative roles of medical therapy, stenting, and CEA in patients > 80 years of age must await the results of randomized trials.