Afro-American kids who undergo cardiac surgery likely to have low quality of life

March 30th, 2009 - 8:16 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Mar 30 (ANI): Scientists have found that several categories of patients with heart disease, including African-Americans and lower-income families, have a lower quality of life.

Although paediatric surgeons can effectively repair complex heart defects in kids, some of the children may have great quality of life, while others with the same condition may not.

The new study was conducted at seven paediatric medical centres throughout the United States.

“Advanced treatments often result in unintended complications, particularly when combined with the hemodynamic impact of the heart defect itself,” said Bradley Marino, MD, a cardiologist from the Heart Institute at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the study’s lead author.

He added: “The child’s neurodevelopmental, psychosocial, and physical functioning are all impacted by these complications, and they may adversely affect the child’s quality of life. If we know the predictors, we can put interventions in place to change the outcome for them.”

For measuring the effect of these factors on children, the researchers developed the Paediatric Cardiac Quality of Life Inventory (PCQLI), a self-administered questionnaire to quantitatively assesses health-related quality of life in children and adolescents age 8-18 years and their parents.

The questions were designed in such a way that anyone with a third grade reading level could understand and answer them in fewer than 10 minutes.

The researchers recruited 759 pairs of patients and their parents, who were between the ages of 8 and 18 and had at least one prior cardiac surgical procedure.

They evaluated the effect of income, socioeconomic status, recent hospitalization, Fontan palliation (a surgical approach to treating hearts with one ventricle), and a greater number of doctor visits in the past year.

It was found that modifiable factors associated with lower quality of life scores among patients after surgery included recent hospitalizations and greater number of doctor visits.

Non-modifiable factors included Fontan palliation and both lower income and socioeconomic status.

In kids between the ages of 8 and 12, lower scores were linked with African American race, genetic abnormality, non-thoracic surgery and sternotomy - the usual, vertical incision in the sternum used for heart surgery.

Mental health problems in parents of children and teens of all ages in the study predicted lower quality of life scores.

In the study, Marino defined quality of life as “the impact of the specific illness or medical therapy on the child’s ability to function in situational contexts, and to draw personal satisfaction from a physical, psychological, and social functioning perspective.”

Marino presented the findings at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in Orlando, FL. (ANI)

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