While communicating with a doctor is key to getting optimal care, it’s not always so easy. Heart patients who complete health status surveys as part of routine care may have better outcomes.
To properly assess a heart care patient, a doctor needs comprehensive information. A patient may not always give complete answers and a doctor may not always ask thorough questions.
A healthcare provider may better assess a patient’s cardiovascular health by using standardized patient surveys, according to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association.
John Rumsfeld, MD, national director of cardiology for the US Veterans Health Administration and professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, authored the statement, which advocates for the use of patient surveys to directly measure the impact of heart disease on patients.
Questionnaires gauge symptoms, quality of life and ability to function physically and mentally.
Dr. Rumsfeld recommends that healthcare providers have patients fill out surveys as part of their regular care.
“Measuring patient health status may help identify patients having more difficulty with symptoms or daily functioning due to their cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Rumsfeld.
“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.”
One of the issues that a questionnaire may help identify is depression, according Dr. Rumsfeld. Depression is common among cardiovascular patients, yet it is often underdiagnosed, and it can significantly worsen an individual’s health.
Depression can contribute to an increased risk of heart attack, according to the Cleveland Clinic, and unmanaged stress can lead to high blood pressure, arterial damage, irregular heart rhythms and a weakened immune system.
“Identification and treatment of depression in cardiovascular patients can improve their quality of life,” Dr. Rumsfeld said.
Patient surveys have been used successfully in clinical trials and research studies; however, they aren’t used enough in day-to-day care, he added.
Questionnaires may ask patients about their history with coronary artery disease (number of blockages), heart attack, diabetes and surgery; incidents of chest pain or chest discomfort; and narrowing of arteries (such as in the legs).
Ultimately, regular patient surveys may contribute to improved clinical outcomes and high rates of patient and physician satisfaction.
The scientific statement was published in May in Circulation, the journal of the American Heat Association.