Background: The aim of this prospective study, with completion of questionnaires before and 3 months after open heart operations, was to evaluate the improvement of quality of life brought about by these operations and the predictors of this improvement.
Methods: The Nottingham health profile questionnaire contains 38 subjective statements divided into six sections: energy, physical mobility, emotional reaction, pain, sleep, and social isolation. Factors influencing quality of life scores were determined by analysis of covariance. Factors influencing the status of the patients (improved or worsened) were determined by logistic regression.
Results: From January to July 1994, 215 consecutive patients underwent elective open heart operations. The comparison between mean preoperative and postoperative scores showed an improvement in all sections of quality of life. An average of 80% of patients were improved by their operations. Independent predictors of less improvement of quality of life scores were as follows: for the energy section, age over 70 and New York Heart Association functional class III or IV; for sleep, age over 70; for physical mobility, New York Heart Association functional class III or IV; for social isolation, female gender; and for pain, age over 70 and abnormal segmental wall motion. Independent predictors of patients worsened by operation were as follows: New York Heart Association functional class III or IV in the energy section (odds ratio = 3.7, 95% confidence interval 1.4 to 9.8) and in the physical mobility section (odds ratio = 2.4, 95% confidence interval 1.02 to 5.5), female gender in the social isolation section (odds ratio = 2.8, 95% confidence interval 1.03 to 7.7), and presence of at least one comorbid disease in the emotional reaction section (odds ratio = 2.5, 95% confidence interval 1.17 to 5.2).
Conclusions: Cardiac operations improve quality of life in patients. The improvement is similar for patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting versus valve replacement, and for patients with no postoperative events versus those with nonlethal postoperative complications. The strongest predictive factors for quality of life are age and New York Heart Association functional class.