Long-term quality of life and posttraumatic stress following elective cardiac surgery: preliminary findings of a 5-year follow-up study

  • Daiva Gražulytė
  • Evaldas Kazlauskas
  • Ieva Norkienė
  • Smiltė Kolevinskaitė
  • Greta Kezytė
  • Indrė Urbanavičiūtė
  • Akvilė Sabestinaitė
  • Gintarė Korsakaitė
  • Paulina Želvienė
  • Donata Ringaitienė
  • Gintarė Šostakaitė
  • Jūratė Šipylaitė
Keywords: cardiac surgery, health-related quality of life, posttraumatic stress


Background. Heart surgery is a major stressful event that can have a significant negative effect on patients’ quality of life (QoL) and may cause long-term posttraumatic stress reactions. The aim of this pilot study was to estimate the longitudinal change and predictors of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) dynamics and identify factors associated with PTS at 5-year follow-up (T2) after elective cardiac surgery and associations with pre-surgery (T1) QoL. Materials and methods. Single-centre prospective study was conducted after Regional Bioethics Committee approval. Adult consecutive patients undergoing elective cardiac surgery were included. HRQOL was measured using the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) questionnaire before (T1) and 5-years after (T2) cardiac surgery. Posttraumatic stress was assessed using the International Trauma Questionnaire. Results. The pilot study revealed a significant positive change at 5-year follow-up in several domains of SF-36: physical functioning (PF), energy/fatigue (E/F), and social functioning (SF). Prolonged postoperative hospital stay was associated with change in SF (p < 0.01), E/F (p < 0.05) and emotional well-being (p < 0.05). The percentage of patients that had the posttraumatic stress disor. der (PTSD) at T2 was 12.2%. Posttraumatic stress symptoms were associated with longer hospitalization after surgery (p < 0.01). Conclusions. HRQOL improved from baseline to five years postoperatively. Patients with lower preoperative HRQOL scores tended to have a more significant improvement of HRQOL five years after surgery. A prolonged postoperative hospital stay had a negative impact on postoperative social functioning, energy/fatigue, and emotional well-being. Increased levels of PTSD were found in cardiac surgery patients following five years after the surgery.
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