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BMJ. 1999 Nov 20;319(7221):1353-5.

Ageism in cardiology.

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Research Unit on Ageing and Population Studies, Centre for Health Informatics and Multiprofessional Education, Royal Free and University College London Medical School, London N19 5NF.



This article supports the argument that ageism exists in health care, particularly on the equity of access to cardiological services. Rates of use of potentially life saving and life promoting interventions and investigations decline as the patient gets older. Higher rates of cardiological interventions occur among younger people, despite the high incidence of the condition among older individuals. Any ageism in clinical medicine and policy is simply a reflection of the presence of ageist attitudes in wider society, where the youth receives a higher priority over age. Ageism in medicine needs to be addressed to preserve or recapture this trust within an aging population. A wide ranging approach is necessary if equity in the provision of health care services is to be ensured which includes improvement of clinical guidelines and more specific monitoring of health care. Educational efforts to raise awareness that age stereotyping and ageist attitudes are unethical should be initiated. Research initiatives, which cover large numbers of older people, should be developed and older people should be empowered to influence choices and standards of treatments. Finally, legislation may be required to eradicate ageism in society.

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