Review Article

Drugs & Aging

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 467-479

First online:

Nuclear Stress Testing in Elderly Patients

A Review of its Use in the Assessment of Cardiac Risk, Particularly in Patients Undergoing Preoperative Risk Assessment
  • Amgad N. MakaryusAffiliated withColumbia University Medical Center
  • , Joseph A. DiamondAffiliated withNorth Shore-LIJ Health System Email author 

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Stress myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) plays an important role in the diagnostic and prognostic assessment of coronary artery disease (CAD) in patients of all age groups who are undergoing assessment prior to non-cardiac surgery. MPI may utilise exercise treadmill or pharmacological stress testing. While MPI has been evaluated in a wide variety of patient subpopulations, there are very limited data on its prognostic value in the elderly population, particularly those >75 years of age, who are making up an ever increasing proportion of the patient population. Because of the higher prevalence and greater severity of CAD in older patients, the sensitivity of noninvasive MPI increases with age, whereas specificity tends to decline. In addition, maximal aerobic exercise capacity tends to decrease with age, making it common practice for elderly patients being assessed for CAD to undergo pharmacological MPI to evaluate their cardiovascular risk. In this article, we review the literature with respect to cardiac risk estimation in elderly patients undergoing MPI, particularly with respect to making prognostic assessments prior to undergoing surgery. Current data allow for the proper application of stress MPI in the elderly population. Use of MPI facilitates identification of the severity and extent of ischaemia as well as left ventricular dilatation and systolic function in elderly patients undergoing non-cardiac surgery.