A small proportion of patients undergoing heart valve operations require prolonged intensive care after surgery. Little is known about the quality of life that such patients attain after hospital discharge.
All consecutive patients who underwent primary heart valve surgery from 1998 to 2003 and required 8 days or more of treatment in an intensive care unit (ICU) were included (n = 225). At follow-up on August 31, 2004, 154 of these patients were alive. A cohort (n = 154) matched for sex, age, type of procedure, and week of operation, with an uncomplicated postoperative course (ICU stay of 2 days or less), served as the control group. All patients received the Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form 36, the Nottingham Health Profile, and the Hospital Depression and Anxiety scale to evaluate their quality of life.
Survival at 5 years in the total ICU group was 68% (154 of 225). According to SF-36, the ICU study cohort reported poorer physical health but equal mental health compared with controls. On the Nottingham Health Profile, the ICU group reported more problems in all domains except emotional reactions and sleep. There was no difference in anxiety or depression between the groups. The ICU patients were in more advanced New York Heart Association functional classes preoperatively and postoperatively. No patient in the ICU study cohort regretted undergoing the operation, and 80% experienced improvement after surgery.
This study showed reduced quality of life in terms of physical health and equal mental health in patients who required prolonged intensive care after heart valve surgery compared with controls without complications.
2005. Vol. 80, no 5, 1693-1698 p.