OBJECTIVE: Whether revascularisation is superior to medical therapy in older populations presenting with non-ST-elevation acute coronary syndromes (NSTEACS) remains contentious, with inconclusive evidence from randomised trials. We aimed to compare routine invasive therapy with initial medical management in the elderly presenting with NSTEACS.
METHODS: MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane Controlled Trial Register were searched for studies comparing routine invasive therapy with initial medical management in patients >/=75 years old presenting with NSTEACS. Endpoints included long-term mortality, myocardial infarction (MI), revascularisation, rehospitalisation, stroke and major bleeding reported as ORs.
RESULTS: Four randomised trials and three observational studies met inclusion criteria, enrolling a total of 20 540 patients followed up from 6 months to 5 years. Routine invasive therapy reduced mortality (OR 0.67, CI 0.61 to 0.74), MI (OR 0.56, CI 0.45 to 0.70) and stroke (OR 0.53, CI 0.30 to 0.95). Analyses restricted to randomised controlled trials (RCTs) confirmed a reduction in MI (OR 0.51, CI 0.40 to 0.66), revascularisation (OR 0.27, CI 0.13 to 0.56) and a trend to reduced mortality (OR 0.84, CI 0.66 to 1.06) at the expense of major bleeding (OR 2.19, CI 1.12 to 4.28). Differences in major bleeding were unapparent in more recent studies.
CONCLUSION: Routine invasive therapy reduces MI and repeat revascularisation and may reduce mortality at the expense of major bleeding in elderly patients with NSTEACS. Our findings highlight the need for further RCTs to better determine the effect on mortality and contemporary bleeding risk.