Objective: To review relevant literature supporting the use of aspirin, beta-blockers, lipid-lowering agents, and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors for the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease (CHD) in an elderly patient population aged >/=65 years.
Data sources: A MEDLINE search (1990-May 2003) was conducted using the key terms coronary heart disease, secondary prevention and elderly.
Study selection and data extraction: Primary and tertiary literature relating to the use of aspirin, beta-blockers, lipid-lowering agents, and ACE inhibitors in the elderly were reviewed.
Data synthesis: CHD is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in persons >/=65 years of age, and the use of pharmacologic agents has created a considerable opportunity for reducing recurrent events in those with established disease. This, combined with the aging of the US population, is creating an increase in the number of older adults eligible for secondary prevention. In 2002, the American Heart Association issued a scientific statement on the benefits of specific secondary prevention risk factor interventions in older adults. This article reviews pertinent findings from this statement, along with additional data supporting the use of pharmacologic agents for the secondary prevention of CHD in the elderly.
Conclusions: Data suggest that use of aspirin, beta-blockers, lipid-lowering agents, and ACE inhibitors are effective in secondary prevention of CHD in individuals aged >/=65 years. This benefit is similar to, and often greater than, that observed in younger patients. We believe that these agents should be prescribed for all elderly patients without contraindications. Ongoing studies and future clinical trials will more clearly elucidate the benefits of secondary prevention of CHD, particularly in persons >/=75 years of age, to determine the magnitude of benefits that can be achieved in this population.