Background: With important demographic changes in cardiac surgical practice, more older patients are undergoing complex cardiac operations. Controversy exists as to whether the expenditure of healthcare resources on the growing elderly populations represents an effective approach in maintaining a meaningful quality of life.
Methods: From January 1982 through April 1991, 121 consecutive octogenarians underwent a surgical procedure that included coronary artery bypass grafting. Retrospective review of patient medical records was performed; follow-up information was obtained via telephone contact with the patient, the patient's family, or the patient's physician.
Results: There were 67 men (55%) and 54 women (45%). Mean age was 82.1 years (range, 80 to 89 years). Sixty-nine percent of the patients were having class III or IV symptoms. There were 11 hospital deaths (9.1%); risk factors included longer cardiopulmonary bypass time (p = 0.01), higher preoperative left ventricular end-diastolic pressure (p = 0.02), advanced age (p = 0.05), history of renal disease (p = 0.02), and myocardial infarction (p = 0.04). Late death occurred in 34 patients (30.9%) at a mean of 27 months postoperatively; univariate risk factors included chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (p = 0.009), higher left-ventricular end-diastolic pressure (p = 0.03), and recent myocardial infarction (p = 0.03). Actuarial survival, including hospital death, was 32.8% at 80 months, compared with 37.6% for an age; sex; and race-matched population (p > 0.3). Most late survivors (84%) were in New York Heart Association class I or II.
Conclusions: We conclude that coronary artery bypass grafting can be performed in octogenarians with an acceptable, although increased risk. Hospital survivors have a good late functional status but are at risk for pulmonary and other atherosclerosis-related events, which impair overall survival.