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AHA Statement: Understanding Heart Patients’ Quality of Life Can Improve Outcomes

Health care providers urged to use feedback from patient surveys to personalize care (May 6)

Completing a quality-of-life (QOL) questionnaire at a health care provider’s office could help patients live longer and live better, according to a new scientific statement published in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association (AHA).

In the statement, the association urges health care providers to assess their patients’ cardiovascular health by using standardized patient surveys. These surveys directly measure the effect of heart disease on patients, including their symptoms, QOL, and ability to function physically and mentally.

Surveys focused on a patients’ QOL can also predict death, future cardiac events, hospitalization, and costs of care. The results should be considered as important as other outcomes, such as survival, the statement’s authors said.

“Ultimately, efforts to improve the health care system will only be successful if they translate into better patient outcomes — not just longevity, but also how well patients live,” said lead author John Rumsfeld, MD, PhD. “This statement recommends increasing the standardized measurement of patient health status, so we can better understand, monitor, and minimize the burden of disease on patients’ lives.”

Health care providers should integrate asking their patients to complete health status surveys as part of routine care to measure their cardiovascular health, Rumsfeld said.

“Changes in health status are prognostic of outcome, including death and heart events,” he remarked. “Measuring patient health status may help identify patients having more difficulty with symptoms or daily functioning due to their cardiovascular disease.”

Moreover, questionnaires can help reveal depression, which can significantly worsen cardiovascular health but is often under-diagnosed, despite being common among cardiovascular patients.

“Identification and treatment of depression in cardiovascular patients can improve their quality of life,” Rumsfeld said.

Source: AHA; May 6, 2013.

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