October 23, 1995

The Quality of Life of Patients With Life-Threatening Arrhythmias

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Cardiology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha.

Arch Intern Med. 1995;155(19):2086-2091. doi:10.1001/archinte.1995.00430190080011

Background:  The treatment of life-threatening arrhythmias with amiodarone or an implantable cardioverter/ defibrillator prolongs patient survival but with significant comorbidity. Previous studies have shown diminished health status and increased psychologic distress and inferred a diminished quality of life; however, a multidimensional analysis of quality of life, including patient perception, has not been performed.

Methods:  One hundred four consecutive patients were surveyed regarding patient demographics, health status, psychologic distress, and patient-perceived quality of life. The patients were treated with amiodarone (n=30) with an implantable cardioverter/defibrillator (n=45) and the remainder were reference patients (n=29).

Results:  This study confirms that patients who survive life-threatening arrhythmias have diminished health status and increased psychologic distress; however, patient-perceived quality of life is preserved. These patients report a better perceived quality of life (as measured by the Quality of Life Index) than the reference group (22.3±4.0 vs 20.5±4.4, P<.05) and their scores are similar to those of normal healthy volunteers (mean score, 21.9). The improved quality of life scores were not dependent on treatment modality (22.1±4.0 vs 22.4±4.1 for medical vs surgical groups, respectively).

Conclusions:  Patient-perceived quality of life is maintained in patients who survive life-threatening arrhythmias despite their diminished health status and increased psychologic distress. Measured quality of life is independent of treatment modality. Thus, caution must be exercised in assuming a diminished quality of life in patients who have survived a life-threatening cardiac event.(Arch Intern Med. 1995;155:2086-2091)