Relationship between functional capacity and quality of life in heart transplant patients

Transplant Proc. 2011 Jul-Aug;43(6):2251-2. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2011.05.003.


The goal of heart transplantation (HT) is not only to prolong the life of patients with end-stage heart failure, but also to offer them the sort of health they enjoyed before the disease. It is widely known that patients' functional capacity improves after HT but what about their quality of life (QoL)? Do functional capacity and QoL improve simultaneously? In the present study, we compared the progression of effort capacity and QoL in the first 2 years after HT. A prospective longitudinal study was performed in 58 heart transplant recipients (43 males, 15 females, age 51.6 ± 10 years) able to complete an effort test 2, 6, 12, and 24 months after transplantation. The studied variables included the five dimensions of the Euroqol-5D questionnaire (EQ-5D) test: mobility, self-care, daily activities, pain/discomfort, anxiety, and depression; a visual analog scale from 0 to 100; and the results (metabolic equivalent units [METs] and time of exercise) of the effort test at 2, 6, 12, and 24 months after transplantation. Analysis of variance was used to compare these variables at each point. Significance was set at P < .05. Functional capacity, measured by both METs and time of exercise, improved progressively (METs: 2 months: 5.2 ± 1.8, 6 months: 6.6 ± 2.1, 12 months: 7.5 ± 2.2, and 24 months: 8.5 ± 2.3, P < .001). As well, the result of EQ-5D questionare improved in parallel to exercise capacity. However, visual analog scale score did not change significatively during the follow-up (2 months: 78.9.3 ± 16.1, 6 months: 83.8 ± 11.3, 12 months: 83.3 ± 11.1, 24 months: 85.2 ± 14.9; P = .192), reaching a plateau at 6 to 24 months. In conclusion, the improvement in functional capacity shown by heart transplant recipients in the first 2 years after transplantation was not parallel to the feelings of well-being measured by the analog scale of the EQ-5D. Possibly long after transplantation patients will compare themselves to healthy people rather than to their state before HT, resulting in improvements the visual analog scale.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adult
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise Tolerance*
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / psychology
  • Heart Failure / surgery*
  • Heart Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Spain
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome