However, though these patients live longer, they are not necessary happier. Many suffer from postoperative depression and fear of death.
Quality of life
American researchers looked into the quality of life of cardiac patients, which is a strong indicator of the effectiveness of treatment and long-term mortality, as well as the socioeconomic impact of disease.
Quality of life measurements
include physical functioning, psychological functioning, social functioning, overall life satisfaction, and perceptions of health status, can be used to measure effectiveness of treatment and predict the long-term mortality after a cardiac event.
Those most likely to suffer for poorer quality are young people aged 18 to 49 years old, female, and black or Hispanic. The loss of productivity and the prospect of death place a big burden on young people with coronary heart disease.
These concerns may not be as strong in older patients but they also exist. A Swedish study observed that elderly patients (mean age = 70 years old) with heart failure exhibit high levels of anxiety or depression that is correlated to fear of death. Although many accept as a natural relief from suffering, there are others who are afraid of pain, disability and loss of dignity.
Researchers also looked sexual satisfaction as a measure of quality of life. It is very often that the patients who have suffered from cardiac events experience problems with their sex life after discharge.
They may have concerns about resuming sexual activity, feelings of sexual inadequacy, changes in sexual interest or changes in patterns of sexual activity…[They] are worried about chest symptoms during intercourse or even an acute ischemic event during sex. Many lack information about returning to sexual activity.
In a 2007 study, researchers looked at the sexual activity of 35 female cardiac patients, with the following results:
- 49% resumed sexual activity within 12 weeks of hospital discharge.
- 35% reported being unsatisfied sexually, ranging from “mostly dissatisfied (41%)” to “somewhat dissatisfied (24%)”.
- 83% reported sexual desire to be lower compared to desire before the cardiac event.
Improving quality of life
There are many ways to improve the quality of life of cardiac patients.
- Dancing, for example, has been shown to be more effective than usual rehab programmes and seems to give patient extra zest for life.
- Physical exercise combined with pscyhological therapy also seems to work better than traditional therapies.
- Adjunct and alternative therapies such as laughter yoga seem to show positive effects.
In subsequent posts, I will discuss these therapies more in detail.