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Posted: July 29, 2008

Patients Are Living Longer with Heart Disease -- But Are They Happy?

Better medical treatments for heart disease are helping patients live longer, but are they enjoying that extra time?

The American Heart Association, in a new study published online in the medical journal Circulation, found that adults with coronary heart disease (CHD) were generally less happy than people with coronary heart disease, scoring up to 9% lower on four scales measuring quality of life in a comparative evaluation. However, the older the patient, the happier they seemed to be.

The Heart Association defined quality of life as measured by physical functioning, social functioning, overall life satisfaction, and an individual’s perceptions of their own health status. AHA said the medical barometer can be used to measure how effective a treatment is and predict how long a patient will live after a cardiac event.

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Results show women, blacks, Hispanics and those between the ages 18 and 49 were most likely to report a poorer quality of life. But older adults -- especially seniors older than 65 -- were less likely to say heart disease affected their quality of life.

Viewing on average across the age spectrum, the happiness study also found that heart disease patients had 2.4% lower mental health scores, 9% lower self-ratings of health and 9.2% lower scores in physical health.

While self-rated health scores showed men to be more affected by CHD than women, physical-health scores showed women with heart disease were more functionally impaired than men. However, both men and women with heart disease rated lower on the mental health measure when compared to those without CHD.

About 16 million Americans have coronary heart disease, according to the American Heart Association.

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