Stress test in elderly

NEW YORK, July 19 (Praxis Press) Physical activity benefits older persons but current guidelines for exercise stress-testing may not apply to the majority of persons aged 75 years or older. Gill and colleagues suggest that the guidelines call for prohibitively expensive and unnecessary tests to monitor heart function and could deter the elderly from beginning an exercise program (see paper). To clarify this hypothesis, the researchers analyzed several studies supporting the benefits and risks of

July 21, 2000

NEW YORK, July 19 (Praxis Press) Physical activity benefits older persons but current guidelines for exercise stress-testing may not apply to the majority of persons aged 75 years or older. Gill and colleagues suggest that the guidelines call for prohibitively expensive and unnecessary tests to monitor heart function and could deter the elderly from beginning an exercise program (see paper). To clarify this hypothesis, the researchers analyzed several studies supporting the benefits and risks of physical activity and exercise among older persons. They found that the risk related to low to moderate intensity exercise among older persons, particularly the risk of a heart attack, is likely to be overestimated. For elderly persons who do not have symptomatic cardiovascular disease and are interested in starting an exercise program, the researchers recommend a program that begins with a complete history and examination, including a resting ECG and climbing a flight of stairs, to rule out contraindications to unmonitored exercise. The current guidelines for routine exercise stress testing may overstate the risk of a heart attack and could deter many older persons from beginning an exercise program.

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