The results of elective cardiac surgery carried out between 1970 and 1975 on 29 patients over 70 years of age are reported. Operative mortality was 10%, late cardiac mortality 14%, with 72% survival at a mean follow-up of 38.6 months. Before operation 96% were in functional classes 3 and 4. After operation 90.5% of late survivors were in functional classes 1 and 2 at a mean follow-up of 43.5 months. These results compare favourably with those in younger patients. Complication rate and length of hospital stay were unremarkable. The risks of neurological damage and of long-term anticoagulation are not increased. Emergency surgery carries a very high risk in this age group. The importance of biological youth and good left ventricular function is emphasised. For aortic stenosis at least prognosis is improved by surgery.
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