Quality of life improves with treatment in the Canadian Trial of Atrial Fibrillation
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BACKGROUND: The impact of atrial fibrillation (AF) and its treatment on health-related quality of life (QOL) is not well understood. We assessed QOL in patients with symptomatic AF participating in the Canadian Trial of Atrial Fibrillation. METHODS: Self-report QOL questionnaires including the Short-Form-36 (SF-36), symptom checklist (SCL) and AF Severity Scale (AFSS) were completed at baseline and 3, and 12 months after randomization. RESULTS: The study group was aged 65 +/- 10 years and 59% were male. By design, 50% of patients were randomized to amiodarone (n = 132), 25% to sotalol (n = 66), and 25% to propafenone (n = 66). Most patients had normal left ventricular function (89%). Physical (41.9 +/- 9.3 to 43.7 +/- 9.2, P =.001) and mental health (47.5 +/- 10.5 to 49.0 +/- 9.8, P =.023) summary measures from the SF-36 improved significantly from baseline to 3 months. Arrhythmia symptom frequency and severity (SCL) also improved markedly from baseline to 3 months (symptom frequency 20.4 +/- 9.4 to 16.2 +/- 9.5 and symptom severity 16.7 +/- 8.2 to 12.9 +/- 7.4, both P <.001). QOL improvements were not significantly different among the groups randomized to amiodarone, sotalol, or propafenone. However, patients with no symptomatic recurrences of AF had higher scores at 3 months on measures of global well-being than those with recurrences in the first 3 months (7.4 +/- 1.8 vs 6.9 +/- 1.8, P <.05). There were no significant QOL changes from the 3 to 12 month assessment. CONCLUSION: In patients with symptomatic AF, QOL improves after treatment, independent of the specific drug used for treatment. This is especially true for patients in whom treatment prevents AF recurrence.
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