Correlating perceived arrhythmia symptoms and quality of life in an older population with heart failure: a prospective, single centre, urban clinic study

Authors


Correspondence: Kathleen T Hickey, Assistant Professor of Nursing, School of Nursing, Columbia University, 630 West 168th Street, New York, NY, USA. Telephone: +1 212 305 4944.

E-mail: kth6@columbia.edu

Abstract

Aims and objectives

To determine the relationship between quality of life and perceived self-reported symptoms in an older, ambulatory, urban population living with heart failure.

Background

While arrhythmias in older individuals with heart failure are well documented, the association between perceived arrhythmia symptoms and quality of life is not well-defined.

Design

Prospective, cross-sectional single-centre study.

Methods

A single-centre, prospective study was conducted with heart failure patients recruited from an urban outpatient cardiology clinic in the United States. Fifty-seven patients completed a baseline quality of life survey with 42 of these completing the six-month follow-up survey. Quality of life was evaluated with the SF-36v2 and frequency of symptoms with the Atrial Fibrillation Severity Scale. Subjects wore an auto triggered cardiac loop monitor (LifeStar AF Express®) for two weeks to document arrhythmias. Data analysis utilised Spearman's rank correlation and logistic regression.

Results

Baseline and six-month quality of life measures did not correlate with recorded arrhythmias. However, perceptions of diminished general health correlated significantly with symptoms of exercise intolerance, lightheadedness/dizziness, palpitations and chest pain/pressure. By multivariable logistic regression, more severe perceived episodes, symptoms of exercise intolerance and lightheadedness/dizziness were independently associated with diminished quality of life.

Conclusion

Quality of life was significantly worse in patients with perceptions of severe arrhythmic episodes and in those with symptoms of dizziness and exercise intolerance.

Relevance to clinical practice

The findings of this study indicate that symptomatic heart failure patients suffer from poor quality of life and that interventions are needed to improve quality of life and decrease symptom severity. Nurses who care for heart failure patients play an essential role in symptom evaluation and management and could significantly improve overall quality of life in these patients by carefully evaluating symptomatology and testing interventions and educational programmes aimed at improving quality of life.

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