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Docs Should Ask Heart Patients About Quality of Life

TUESDAY, May 7 (HealthDay News) -- Completing quality-of-life surveys at a doctor's office could help heart disease patients live longer and have better lives, according to a new statement from the American Heart Association.

The statement urged doctors to use these surveys to assess patients' heart health. The surveys reveal the impact of heart disease on patients, including their symptoms, quality of life, and ability to function physically and mentally.

Quality-of-life surveys can also help predict future events such as heart attack, hospitalization, costs of care and death, according to the statement published May 6 in the journal Circulation.

"Ultimately, efforts to improve the health care system will only be successful if they translate into better patient outcomes -- not just longevity, but also how well patients live," statement lead author Dr. John Rumsfeld said in an AHA news release.

"This statement recommends increasing the standardized measurement of patient health status -- so we can better understand, monitor and minimize the burden of disease on patients' lives," he explained.

Researchers have successfully used patient surveys in clinical trials and other studies, they but aren't used enough in routine health care, according to Rumsfeld, national director of cardiology for the U.S. Veterans Health Administration and a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, in Denver.

He suggested that doctors should have patients complete health status surveys during their routine visits in order to assess their heart health. Along with changes in physical health that might indicate an increased risk for serious problems or death, surveys can help reveal depression, which is common among heart disease patients and can significantly worsen their heart health.

"Identification and treatment of depression in cardiovascular patients can improve their quality of life," Rumsfeld said in the news release.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health outlines steps you can take to reduce heart risks.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, May 6, 2013

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