Association of increasing age with receipt of specialist care and long-term mortality in patients with non-ST elevation myocardial infarction

M. Justin Zaman, Robert Fleetcroft, Max Bachmann, Toomas Sarev, Susan Stirling, Allan Clark, Phyo Kyaw Myint

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Background: observational studies suggest that older patients are less likely to receive secondary prevention medicines following acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Objectives: to examine the association of increasing age with receipt of specialist care and influence of specialist care on long-term mortality in patients with non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI). Design: a cohort study. Setting: National ACS registry of England and Wales. Subjects: a total of 85,183 patients admitted with NSTEMI between 2006 and 2010. Methods: logistic regression analyses to assess receipt of secondary prevention medicines (ACE inhibitor, β-blocker, statin, aspirin) by age group; multivariate Cox regression models to examine longitudinal effect of cardiologist care on all-cause mortality by age group. Results: mean age 72.0 years (SD 13.0 years), mean follow-up was 2.13 years. Older patients received less cardiologist care (70.2% of NSTEMI patients ≥85 years compared with 94.7% of patients <65) years and had more co-morbidity. Cardiologists prescribed more secondary prevention in all age groups than generalists, but this was mostly explained away by co-morbidity (receipt of statin crude OR 1.51 (1.27,1.80), fully adjusted OR 1.11 (0.92,1.33) in patients ≥85 years). Receiving cardiologist care compared with generalist care was associated with a decreased risk of death in all even after adjustment for co-morbidity, disease severity and secondary prevention; this benefit reduced incrementally with older age group (adjusted hazard ratio (HR) 0.58 (0.49,0.68) aged <65; 0.87 (0.82,0.92) aged ≥85). Conclusion: older patients with NSTEMI were less likely to see a cardiologist, but reduced treatment by generalists was explained away by co-morbidity. Cardiologist care was associated with lower mortality in all age groups than a generalist, but this survival benefit was less pronounced in older patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-103
Number of pages8
JournalAge and Ageing
Issue number1
Early online date24 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • acute coronary syndrome
  • older people
  • quality of health care
  • survival

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