A quarter of patients in their late 80s have undiagnosed heart problems that could easily be treated, according to a UK study.
Newcastle University researchers carried out echocardiograms in the homes of 376 people aged 87 to 89.
They found 26% of patients had a previously undiagnosed heart problem, in particular, impairment of left ventricular systolic function - a condition treatable with established drugs such as beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors.
Lead author Bernard Keavney said: “We were surprised to discover just how many older people have heart problems. Many of these people could be treated with drugs that we know work, if their condition were recognised.
“This would improve their quality of life and it’s likely to slow their progression to heart failure.”
Professor Keavney added: “Anything we can do to improve the heart health of our oldest old is likely to have a big impact [on reducing costs for the NHS].”
British Heart Foundation research advisor Shannon Amoils said: “It’s important that this vulnerable group of people doesn’t get overlooked so that they are properly assessed and receive the best treatments to improve their quality of life.”
The research was published online in the journal Heart. A separate study published in the BMJ earlier this month concluded that more patients over 75 should be prescribed drugs for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Researchers from Birmingham and Oxford universities studied 36,679 patients aged over 40 from across the West Midlands. They found the issuing of prescriptions for statins began to decline once patients reached 75 and for anti-hypertensives after 85.