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Clot busters may put elderly people at risk

Drugs that dissolve blood clots in heart attack patients save thousands of lives every year. However, a new study questions whether these powerful, so-called clot busters are safe for the oldest heart patients.

Researchers reviewed the medical histories of 2,659 heart attack patients admitted to 37 Minnesota hospitals during the 1990s. Of these, 735 received one of the main clot-busting drugs, such as streptokinase, shortly after their heart attacks. Researchers found that patients over age 80 getting the drugs were significantly more likely to die during their hospital stay than were patients of similar age who didn't get the clot busters, says study coauthor Stephen B. Soumerai of Harvard Medical School in Boston. The work appears in the March 12 Archives of Internal Medicine.

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