The impact of demographic and clinical characteristics on the trajectories of health-related quality of life among patients with Fabry disease

Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2021 Oct 12;16(1):427. doi: 10.1186/s13023-021-02066-y.


Background: Fabry disease (FD) is an X-linked lysosomal storage disorder characterized by multiorgan dysfunction. Since individuals with FD usually experience progressive clinical disease manifestations, their health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is expected to change over time. However, there is limited longitudinal research examining HRQOL outcomes in individuals with FD. We aimed to: assess longitudinal outcomes in HRQOL in adults with FD; examine the physical- and mental HRQOL trajectories at the initial registration (baseline), 3-5 year, and 7-13 year follow-ups; and evaluate the possible associations of age, sex and medical complications with the physical- and mental HRQOL trajectories.

Methods: Forty-three individuals with FD (53% female) who were aged 18 to 81 years at baseline attended clinical follow-up visits between 2006 and 2020. Medical records were extracted retrospectively. Demographics and the 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) were recorded at scheduled visits, except for the last data collection which was prospectively obtained in 2020. The physical (PCS) and mental (MCS) composite scores (SF-36) were chosen as outcome measures.

Results: The eight SF-36 domain scores were stable over a span of 13 years, and only physical- and social functioning domains worsened clinically over this follow-up period. Mean baseline SF-36 domain scores were all significantly lower (decreased HRQOL) in the FD sample compared with Norwegian population norms. Two hierarchical linear models were run to examine whether demographics and medical complications (measured at the last clinical visit) predicted physical and mental HRQOL trajectories. Age above 47 years (p < 0.001), male sex (p = 0.027), small fibre neuropathy (p < 0.001), renal dysfunction (p < 0.001), and cerebrovascular events (p = 0.003) were associated with lower HRQOL over time. No significant interactions were found between the time of follow up and the abovementioned predictors of HRQOL.

Conclusions: Overall HRQOL trajectories remained stable between baseline, 3-5 year, and 7-13 year follow-ups, with the majority of individuals reporting decreased physical and mental HRQOL. Medical complications in combination with older age and male sex are important predictors of lower HRQOL in FD. Awareness of this relationship is valuable both for health care providers and for patients. The findings provide indicators that can guide treatment decisions to improve physical and mental HRQOL outcomes.

Keywords: ERT; Fabry disease; HRQOL; Kidney disease; Longitudinal studies; Neuropathic pain; Quality of life; SF-36.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Fabry Disease*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires