New York Hospital Says 5% of Heart Surgery Patients are over 90

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NYU Langone Medical Center surgeons are performing minimally invasive heart surgery techniques on patients in their 80s and 90s. Outcomes are strong, going against the assumption that elderly patients who have heart surgery are destined to a steady decline.

New York heart surgery

NYU Langone Medical Center Performing Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery on Older Patients

Many places won’t operate on elderly high risk patients. Josephine Calvert is older and had bad disease in the aorta. There would have been a lot more risk with surgery if it were done conventionally

NYU Langone Medical Center has performed minimally invasive heart surgery for over 15 years. In that time there has been an increase in elderly patients. Now 5% of the surgeries are performed on patients over 90 years of age.

People are living longer, well into their 80s and 90s, and they are much more likely to be independent and live on their own. In the past, the elderly may have avoided surgery, since people assume that their health will continue to decline. However, increasing number of patients over 70 years old are undergoing heart surgery and they have improved outcomes.

According to census data, by 2050, 21% of the US population will be 65 and over. If counted from the year 2000, that is an increase of 147%. By comparison, the population as a whole would have increased by 49% in the same time period.

Josephine Calvert, a 91 year old from New York is part of that trend. To avoid a stroke she signed up for a heart valve replacement at NYU Langone Medical Center. Due to increased osteoporosis and loss of bone strength in post-menopausal women, there is slow healing, but Dr. Aubrey Galloway, Chairman of Cardiothoracic Surgery, performed the surgery using a minimally invasive technique which decreased healing time. After surgery, Calvert made a full recovery and is back doing her normal daily activities.

Dr. Galloway said, “Many places won’t operate on elderly high risk patients. Josephine Calvert is older and had bad disease in the aorta. There would have been a lot more risk with surgery if it were done conventionally.”

NYU has published numerous research articles on short and long term outcomes in elderly and high risk patients undergoing heart surgery. It is one of the largest samples of patients on minimally invasive heart surgery. It showed the vast majority of patients undergoing aortic valve surgery were over 70 years of age. They avoid performing the traditional ‘open heart' sternotomy incision, which is important because osteoporosis, which is common in the elderly, because it can impair healing. Outcomes of the traditional ‘open heart' sternotomy and the minimally invasive approach were also compared for mitral valve repair, and the minimally invasive mitral valve repair showed a marked advantage for the elderly.

NYU research has shown that many elderly patients facing heart surgery can anticipate an improved quality of life. See for more information.

About NYU Langone Medical Center
NYU Langone Medical Center, a world-class patient-centered integrated academic medical center, is one of the nation’s premier centers for excellence in healthcare, biomedical research, and medical education. NYU Langone comprises three hospitals—Tisch Hospital, the Hospital for Joint Diseases, and the NYU School of Medicine.

In 2009, NYULMC ranked 11th nationally for heart and heart surgery and achieved "honor roll" standing in U.S. News & World Report annual survey of the best hospitals in America.


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Carin Grossman
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