Harvard Heart Letter

Too old for a stent?

nurse-patient-stent
Image: Thinkstock

Ask the Doctor

Q: I recently turned 86 and my angina is getting worse, even though I'm taking several different medications for it. Am I too old to have an angioplasty and a stent?

A: Not necessarily. During an angioplasty, a doctor threads a thin tube into a heart blood vessel and inserts a tiny mesh scaffold (called a stent) to keep the vessel open and restore blood flow. This can often improve chest pain, or angina. However, many studies of angioplasty haven't included large numbers of people over 80. That's primarily because older people tend to have more health problems than their younger counterparts, so including more elderly people in a study could skew the results.

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