The detection of Trypanosoma cruzi by nested-PCR in elderly patients: relationship to the clinical and epidemiological profile
Chagas disease, which is caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, is transmitted primarily by triatomine bugs, although the incidence of new cases has decreased as a result of vector control. In Brazil, most of those affected have the chronic form of the disease and are generally elderly individuals who require appropriate clinical follow-up. In this work, we undertook a descriptive study in which 85 patients were interviewed and blood samples were collected for molecular analyses based on the amplification of parasite satellite DNA. The cardiac form of the disease was the most prevalent among the patients and hypertension was the most frequent comorbidity; polypharmacy was detected in 34% of the cases. Serological tests were positive in 95% of cases while 36% were positive in nested-polymerase chain reaction. These findings indicate an increased use of medications and a larger number of age-related diseases in elderly patients with Chagas disease, even in patients with low parasitemia. We conclude that elderly patients with Chagas disease require special attention and that further studies should be done with elderly individuals who carry this disease.