Introduction and objectives: In recent decades the mean age of patients with infective endocarditis has progressively increased. The objective of the present study was to describe the clinical features and prognoses of infective endocarditis in the elderly.
Methods: A prospective study was performed of 125 non drug abuser patients over the age of 14 years and admitted from 1987 until 1997 in a single institution. Twenty-one patients were older than 65 years.
Results: No significant differences were observed among the age groups with respect to delay in diagnosis, clinical signs, site of the infection and the rate of negative blood cultures. Prosthetic valve endocarditis was more frequent in elderly than in younger adults (41 and 33%, respectively). S. viridans and enterococcus were more frequent (47 compared with 29% in younger adults, p < 0.05). Elderly patients underwent surgery less frequently (46 versus 56%) and most surgery was performed on an emergency basis. The in hospital mortality was higher in the elderly (50 versus 15%), p < 0.05.
Conclusions: Prosthetic valve endocarditis and severe complications during the active phase are more frequent in the elderly and this is related to a worse prognosis in the short and intermediate term. A higher rate of elective surgery during the active phase could improve the prognosis of infective endocarditis in the elderly.