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Health-related quality of life after heart surgery

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SF-36 health survey has been validated to measure QoL after intensive care [1]. A Finnish version of SF-36 is available with values for normal population [2]. This was used to evaluate QoL after heart surgery and postoperative intensive care.


Questionnaire was sent six months after ICU discharge to 454 patients who had undergone heart surgery during 01.01.1998-31.08.1998 in Oulu University Hospital.


375 patients, of whom 73% were male, completed and returned the questionnaire. CABG was performed in 81% of the cases. 71% of the operations were elective. QoL of the patients was worse than that of the normal population, especially for physical functioning and general health. Instead general mental health and social functioning were at the same level. General well-being was worse than 12 months earlier in only 12% of the patients. Physical functioning (P<0.001) and role limitations due to personal or emotional problems (P=0.04) were worse in patients over 65 years old compared to those under 65. Pain worsened QoL more on younger patients (P=0.04). Female gender (P=0.002), emergency operation (P<0.001), type of surgery (P=0.02), neurological complications (P=0.02) and preoperative Higgins-Cleveland classification (P<0.001) were associated with low QoL. Instead postoperative infections, perioperative myocardial infarction and prolonged intensive care had no effect on QoL.


Most patients experience a better or equal QoL six months after heart surgery than before the operation. Better QoL can be achieved by optimising preoperative status and by elective surgery. Measures to avoid perioperative neurological complications must be applied to patient care.


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Ohukainen, J., Kaukoranta, P. & Ala-Kokko, T. Health-related quality of life after heart surgery. Crit Care 4 (Suppl 1), P215 (2000).

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