Background: A substantial burden associated with MI has been reported. Thus, how survivors experience their quality of life (QOL) is now being given increasing attention. However, few studies have involved women and a comparison with the general population. The aims of this study were to determine the QOL of female MI survivors, to investigate whether their QOL differed from that of the general population, and to evaluate the clinical significance of the findings.
Methods: Two cross-sectional surveys were performed; on female MI survivors and the general Norwegian population. The MI survey included women aged 62-80 years, three months to five years after their MI. One hundred and forty-five women responded, yielding a response rate of 60%. A subset of women in the same age range (n = 156) was drawn from a study of 1893 randomly selected Norwegian citizens. QOL was measured in both groups with the World Health Organization Quality of Life Instrument Abbreviated (WHOQOL-BREF).
Results: The majority (54%) of the female MI survivors presented with ST-elevation in their ECG, 31% received thrombolysis, and 38% had reduced left ventricular ejection fraction. Female MI survivors reported significantly lower satisfaction with general health (p = 0.020) and overall QOL (p = 0.017) than women from the general population. This was also the case for the physical and environmental QOL domains (p < 0.001), but not for the psychological and social relationship domains. Estimated effect sizes between the two groups of participants ranged from 0.1 to -0.6.
Conclusion: The burden of MI significantly affects the physical health of elderly women. Still, female MI survivors fare as well as the general female population on psychosocial QOL domains. Action should be taken not only to support women's physical needs but also to reinforce their strengths in order to maintain optimal QOL.