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. 2001 Feb;22(3):247-53.
doi: 10.1053/euhj.2001.2180.

Quality of Life in Patients With Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation and Its Predictors: Importance of the Autonomic Nervous System

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Quality of Life in Patients With Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation and Its Predictors: Importance of the Autonomic Nervous System

M P van den Berg et al. Eur Heart J. .

Abstract

Aims: To determine the impact of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation on quality of life and to determine the predictors of quality of life, particularly the role of symptomatology and autonomic function.

Methods and results: The study group comprised 73 patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (mean age 54.1 years, 51 males). On average, patients had a 3-year history of one paroxysm per week lasting 2 h. Quality of life was assessed using the SF-36 (Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form Health Survey) and compared with age-matched controls. Autonomic function was assessed using Holter monitoring with analysis of heart rate variability and autonomic function tests. Symptoms during paroxysms of atrial fibrillation were also scored. Multivariate analysis was performed to identify independent predictors of quality of life. Quality of life scores were markedly lower in patients than in controls in four of the eight subscales (P<0.001): physical role function, emotional role function, vitality and general health. Structural heart disease did not predict quality of life, whereas frequency of paroxysms was predictive only of physical role function. In contrast, autonomic variables (baroreflex-sensitivity, total power (heart rate variability), response to deep breathing, 30-15 ratio (standing up)) were predictive in all four respective subscales (P<0.05), depressed vagal function being predictive of low scores. Symptoms, particularly severe perspiration, were also predictive of low scores (P<0.05).

Conclusions: This study shows that paroxysmal atrial fibrillation causes significant impairment of quality of life. Further, symptomatology and autonomic function are important predictors of quality of life in this patient group.

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