Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology,
Vol. 22, No. 6, 2006


Health-Related Quality-of-Life Assessment of Patients with
Life-Threatening Ventricular Arrhythmias

Jeffrey H. Herbst, Mark Goodman, Stanley Feldstein, Joseph M. Reilley

This study was supported in part by the Department of Psychology and Graduate Student Association of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (to Dr. Herbst) and The Union Memorial Hospital Heart Foundation (to Dr. Goodman).


The purpose of this study was to determine whether treatments for life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias are associated with quality-of-life (QOL) and psychological distress. Multidimensional measures of QOL and psychological distress were used to cross-sectionally compare patients with ICDs to patients treated with antiarrhythmic drugs and patients without serious cardiac conditions. The sample consisted of 157 patients: 35 patients treated with antiarrhythmic medication only, 24 patients treated with ICD only, 25 patients treated with ICD and antiarrhythmic medication, and 73 controls. Patients completed the Medical Outcomes Study SF-36 health survey, the Brief Symptom Inventory, and background questionnaires. There were no significant differences in self-reported QOL and psychological distress between patients with or without ICD, and the occurrence of defibrillator shocks was unrelated to QOL and psychological distress. However, patients treated with antiarrhythmic drugs reported greater QOL impairment in physical functioning, vitality, emotional role limitations, and sleep, as well as greater psychological distress than patients not treated with antiarrhythmics. These limitations may be attributed to adverse effects arising from antiarrhythmic pharmacotherapy. Results of the present investigation suggest that QOL and psychological distress are maintained among ICD patients, whereas treatment with antiarrhythmic drugs are associated with a diminished QOL and greater psychological distress. These findings may assist cardiologists to select the optimal treatment for life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias that minimizes disturbances in health-related QOL and psychological distress and increases patient compliance.