80 is not the new 70: Age may bias heart care, study finds

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In this Thursday, April 19, 2001, file photo, a surgeon and assistants perform open heart bypass surgery on a patient at a hospital in Mesa, Arizona. oru Kawana/East Valley Tribune via AP photo
People are more likely to buy things when prices end in 99 cents rather than when rounded up to the next dollar, or they choose cars with mileage under 1,000 instead of past that mark. Now researchers said something similar might be happening with age perception and heart surgery. A U.S. study out Wednesday, Feb. 18, found that heart attack patients who turned 80 within the previous two weeks were less likely to get bypass surgery than those who were two weeks shy of that birthday, even though the age difference is less than a month. Guidelines do not limit the operation after a certain age, but doctors may be mentally classifying people as being “in their 80s” and suddenly much riskier than those “in their 70s,” study leader Dr. Anupam Jena of Harvard Medical School said.
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