Permanent pacing is the therapy of choice for treating severe and/or symptomatic bradyarrhythmias. The number of very elderly patients receiving pacemakers is increasing and little is known about survival in this specific subgroup. This study is aimed at assessing the actual survival of patients requiring pacing therapy at age > 85 years and investigating variables associated with death.
Between 2010 and 2017, 572 patients aged ≥ 85 years underwent pacemaker implantation for conventional bradycardia indications in Department of Cardiology, S. Chiara Hospital, Italy.
Thirty percent of patients were ≥ 90-year-old and comorbidities were frequent. Fifty-seven percent of patients required pacing for prognostic reasons (acquired atrioventricular block), and the remaining for relief of bradycardia symptoms. A dual-chamber pacemaker was implanted in 34% of patients. The 5-year survival was 45% (standard error: 3%), and the 8-year survival was 26% (standard error: 4%). The risk of death was similar in patients who received pacemaker for symptom relief and for prognostic reasons in the overall population (HR = 1.19, 95% CI: 0.93-1.52, = 0.156), as well as in the ≥ 90-year-old group (HR = 1.39, 95% CI: 0.92-2.11, = 0.102). At multivariate analysis, following variables were associated with death: higher age, lower ejection fraction, dementia/dysautonomia and diagnosis of cancer. The pacing indication and the implantation of a single chamber pacemaker were not associated with worse prognosis.
This study showed a good life expectancy in patients aged ≥ 85 years who received a pacemaker. Strong risk factors for all-cause death were non-cardiac. Pacemaker therapy seems a clinically effective therapeutic option to improve survival and to control bradyarrhythmia-related symptoms in very elderly patients.

Institute of Geriatric Cardiology.