March 31, 2009

Pediatric Heart Patients Deserve Happy Ending

Children who undergo surgical repair of complex heart defects have a good prognosis these days. More than 90 percent survive the operation.

New research suggests not all these kids go on to live happy lives, however, according to a study out of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, several factors raise the risk for a lower quality of life for some.

The study was conducted among 759 children between the ages of 8 and 18 and their parents. All the kids had undergone surgery for a heart defect, and kids and parents alike  were surveyed using a tool called the Pediatric Cardiac Quality of Life Inventory (PCQLI) developed by the researchers for the study.

Results showed lower quality of life scores for African-Americans, kids who had a genetic abnormality, those who had a non-thoracic surgery, and those who had a sternotomy, which is the vertical incision in the sternum generally used in heart surgery.

"Our research will ultimately allow us to use the PCQLI as a screening tool to determine which patients are at risk for problems that affect their quality of life," study author Bradley Marino, M.D., was quoted as saying. "We are trying to figure out how to help children at the point of care. We want to carry out research that's going to change how they carry on in their lives and allow them to grow and develop to their maximum potential."

SOURCE: Presented at The American College of Cardiology Conference, March 29, 2009