Objectives: We sought to evaluate the impact of percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) and medical treatment on self-perceived quality of life among patients with angina.
Background: The second Randomized Intervention Treatment of Angina trial (RITA-2) implemented initial policies of PTCA or continued medical treatment in patients with angina, allowing assessment of long-term health consequences.
Methods: A total of 1,018 patients were randomly assigned (504 to PTCA and 514 to medical treatment). The short form 36 (SF-36) self-administered quality-of-life questionnaire was completed at randomization and three months, one year and three years later. To date, 98% of patients reached one year and 67% reached three years.
Results: The PTCA group had significantly greater improvements in physical functioning, vitality and general health at both three months and one year, but not at three years. These quality-of-life scores were strongly related to breathlessness, angina grade and treadmill exercise time both at baseline and at one year. The treatment differences in quality of life are explained by the PTCA group's improvements in breathlessness, angina and exercise time. The attenuation of treatment difference at three years is partly attributed to 27% of medically treated patients receiving nonrandomized interventions in the interim. For both groups, there were also improvements in ratings of physical role functioning, emotional role functioning, social functioning, pain and mental health, but for these the superiority of PTCA over medical treatment was less pronounced. After one year, 33% and 22% of the PTCA and medical groups, respectively, rated their health much better.
Conclusions: Coronary angioplasty substantially improves patient-perceived quality of life, especially physical functioning and vitality, as compared with continued medical treatment. These differences are attributed to alleviation of cardiac symptoms (specifically, breathlessness and angina), but must be balanced against the small procedure-related risks of PTCA.