BACKGROUND: Data derived from prospective randomized clinical trials suggest differential comparative benefit between carotid angioplasty and stent (CAS) placement and carotid endarterectomy (CEA) in various age strata. We sought to investigate the impact of age on outcomes of CAS and CEA in general practice. METHODS: We analyzed the data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS), which is representative of all admissions in the United States from 2005 to 2008. The primary end point was occurrence of stroke, cardiac complications, or death during the postprocedural period. Outcomes of interest were compared between patients aged >/=70 years and <70 years, undergoing CEA and CAS. Multivariate logistic regression was performed to determine the effect of age on occurrence of postoperative stroke, cardiac complications, or death. Covariates included in the logistic regression were patient's age, gender, comorbid conditions, including hypertension, diabetes mellitus (DM), chronic lung disease, coronary artery disease (CAD), congestive heart failure (CHF), and renal failure; symptom status (symptomatic vs asymptomatic status), and hospital characteristics. RESULTS: Of the total 495,331 estimated patients who received treatment for CAD during the study period, 88% underwent CEA and the remaining 12% underwent CAS. Of the total procedures, 41% of the procedures were performed in patients aged <70 years compared to the remaining 59% that were performed among patients aged >/=70 years. For patients undergoing CAS, age >/=70 years was an important predictor of postoperative stroke (P = .0025; odds ratio [OR], 1.7; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.2-2.5) and cardiac complications postprocedure (P = .045; OR, 1.3; 95% CI, 1.0-1.6). For patients undergoing CEA, age >/=70 years was associated with higher cardiac complications (P < .001; OR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.3-1.7) and higher postoperative mortality risk (P = .0008; OR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.1-1.8) compared to patients aged <70 years. The increased risk of composite end point (postoperative stroke/cardiac complications/mortality) among patients aged >/=70 years was a significant factor for patients undergoing either CAS or CEA (OR of 1.3 for both procedures). CONCLUSION: Our analysis suggests that most CAS and CEAs are performed in patients aged >/=70 years in general practice, and higher rates of postoperative complications are observed among these patients regardless of procedure choice.