The study aims to verify quality of life of elderly patients submitted to cardiac surgery, and correlating surgical risk to health-related quality of life instrument domains. Prospective cohort study, performed at a cardiology hospital. It included elderly patients who had undergone elective cardiac surgery. Pre- and postoperative quality of life was evaluated by applying the World Health Organization Quality of Life–Old (WHOQOL-OLD) scale and the Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) questionnaire. Surgical risk was stratified using the European System for Cardiac Operative Risk Evaluation (EuroSCORE). Fifty-four patients, mostly men (64.8%), were included, with a mean age of 69.3 ± 5.7 years. The eight domains of the SF-36 questionnaire, and the four facets presented for the WHOQOL-OLD scale showed improved quality of life 6 months after surgery (P < 0.001). No difference was found in the association of EuroSCORE with the domains of the health-related quality of life instruments. The data showed improved quality of life of elderly people submitted to cardiac surgery, unrelated to surgical risk.