, Volume 20, Issue 8, pp 585-595

Benefits of Optimising Drug Treatment in Home-Dwelling Elderly Patients with Coronary Artery Disease

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Coronary artery disease (CAD) is prevalent in the elderly and often leads to disability. Consequently, strategies for optimising the prevention and treatment of CAD in the elderly are important from both the individual and societal perspectives.

Although it is common knowledge that the elderly are heavy consumers of drugs, there is evidence to show that there is under-prescribing of evidence-based medical therapies in the home-dwelling elderly coronary patient and there may be overuse of some non-evidence-based (antioxidants) and purely symptomatic treatments. In particular, aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), β-adrenoceptor antagonists, ACE inhibitors and HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors are under-utilised. Although the evidence base is largely drawn from trials including patients younger than 75 years, it is reasonable to assume that the data applies to patients aged over 75 years and that better use of evidence-based medicines would provide benefits to the home-dwelling aged patient.

Evidence from the few multifactorial studies available suggest possible benefits including reduction of cardiovascular events, less disability and better quality of life in old age. At the societal level, this would be reflected in fewer hospitalisations and institutionalisations, which means decreased cost of elderly care.