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We carried out a cross-sectional study to assess cognitive function in a sample of adult CHD patients, within the Functioning in Adult Congenital Heart Disease study London. The association between cognitive functioning and disease complexity was examined.
A total of 310 patients participated in this study. Patients were classified into four structural complexity groups – tetralogy of Fallot, transposition of the great arteries, single ventricle, and simple conditions. Each patient underwent neuropsychological assessment to evaluate cognitive function, including memory and executive function, and completed questionnaires to assess depression and anxiety.
Among all, 41% of the sample showed impaired performance (>1.5 SD below the normative mean) on at least three tests of cognitive function compared with established normative data. This was higher than the 8% that was expected in a normal population. The sample exhibited significant deficits in divided attention, motor function, and executive functioning. There was a significant group difference in divided attention (F=5.01, p=0.002) and the mean total composite score (F=5.19, p=0.002) between different structural complexity groups, with the simple group displaying better cognitive function.
The results indicate that many adult CHD patients display impaired cognitive function relative to a healthy population, which differs in relation to disease complexity. These findings may have implications for clinical decision making in this group of patients during childhood. Possible mechanisms underlying these deficits and how they may be reduced or prevented are discussed; however, further work is needed to draw conclusive judgements.
This review explores the quality of life of adult congenital heart disease patients and the relationship between disease severity and quality of life.
We searched seven electronic databases and the bibliography of articles. The 31 selected studies fulfilled the following criteria: adult population; quantitative; assessment of quality of life and/or impact of disease severity on quality of life using validated measures; English language. Data extraction forms were used to summarise the results.
There are evident methodological limitations within the reviewed studies such as heterogeneous populations, designs, and quality of life conceptualisations and measurements. Despite these problems, findings suggest that the quality of life of adult congenital heart disease patients is compromised in the physical domain compared with their healthy counterparts, whereas no differences were found in relation to the psychosocial and environmental/occupational domain. Some severity variables appear to be significant correlates of quality of life and could be considered in a future standardised classification of disease severity.
The methodological limitations of past research in relation to the definition and measurement of quality of life, the study designs, and disease severity classifications need to be addressed in future studies in order to provide robust evidence and valid conclusions in this area of study. This will enable the development of targeted interventions for the improvement of quality of life in the adult population of congenital heart disease patients.
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