Experts highlight cardiovascular and drug interaction risks in elderly patients

Boston, MA (September 30, 2002) Delegates attending the 7th International Conference on Geriatric Oncology reviewed data on the special treatment needs of elderly cancer patients. The data is relevant given the increased organ impairment (e.g. increased cardiovascular disease), and the increasing trend for multiple drug consumption ("poly-pharmacy") in the elderly cancer patient. Clinical trial experts say the potential risks to the elderly patient are underestimated due to restrictive clinical trial entry requirements.

Use of granisetron, an antiemetic drug with no cardiovascular restrictions and low potential for drug interactions is an appropriate choice for elderly cancer patients because granisetron is unlikely to create additional complications.

Antiemetics are used to treat chemotherapy and radiation therapy induced nausea and vomiting. Of the antiemetics, the 5HT3 receptor antagonists, like granisetron, are considered the gold standard in treatment and have a good tolerability and safety profile, particularly when compared to the other older antiemetics.

Differences, however, have been noted within the 5HT3 class in relation to the potential for cardiovascular toxicity and potential for adverse drug interactions.

Commenting on the cardiovascular risks from antiemetic therapy, Dr. Matti Aapro (Clinique de Genolier, Genolier, Switzerland) said, "The increased incidence of cardiovascular disease seen with increasing age necessitates careful consideration of the potential cardiotoxic properties of treatments."

"The increased risk from repeat cardiovascular insult in elderly patients with cardiovascular impairment is unknown, but the risk likely exists," said Dr. Aapro regarding clinical implications. "The cardiovascular side effect profile of antiemetics should be a key consideration in the elderly population and clinicians should be selecting the antiemetic with the lowest risk potential," he added.


Contact: Whitney Hartmann
Shire Health New York

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