Content » Vol 51, Issue 6

Original report

Effect of patient education and physical training on quality of life and physical exercise capacity in patients with paroxysmal or persistent atrial fibrillation: A randomized study

Albert M. Joensen, Pia T. Dinesen, Lotte T. Svendsen, Tina K. Hoejbjerg, Annette Fjerbaek, Jane Andreasen, Maria B. Sottrup, Søren Lundbye-Christensen, Henrik Vadmann, Sam Riahi
Department of Cardiology, Aalborg University Hospital, Aalborg, Denmark. E-mail:
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2551


Objective: To examine the effect of a rehabilitation programme on quality of life and physical capacity in patients with atrial fibrillation.
Methods: Patients with paroxysmal or persistent atrial fibrillation were randomized to either a 12-week rehabilitation programme with education and physical training (intervention group) or standard care (control group). At baseline, after 3, 6 and 12 months participants completed 5 different quality of life questionnaires (Quality of Life in patients with Atrial Fibrillation (AF-QoL-18), Atrial Fibrillation Effect on QualiTy of Life (AFEQT), Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), Generalised Anxiety Disorder Assessment (GAD-7) and EuroQol 5D (EQ-5D)), and physical exercise tests. Differences in mean] scores between groups were analysed by repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA).
Results: Fifty-eight patients (age range 43–78 years, 31% female) were included. In the intervention group the AF-QoL-18 score increased from baseline (48. 4 (standard deviation (SD) 22. 8)) to 6 months (68. 0 (SD 15. 2)) compared with the control group (baseline 51. 6 (SD 22. 3), 6 months 59. 2 (SD 27. 3)). After 12 months, there was no difference. Similar patterns were found for the other questionnaires. Maximum exercise capacity improved in the intervention group from baseline (176 W (SD 48)) to 6 months (190 W (SD 55)). There was no change in the control group.
Conclusion: Education and physical training may have a short-term (but no long-term) beneficial effect on quality of life and physical exercise capacity in patients with atrial fibrillation.

Lay Abstract

Atrial fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia and the number of atrial fibrillation patients is growing worldwide. In addition to an increase in risk of stroke and heart failure patients with atrial fibrillation also experience decrease in fitness and quality of life. In our study 58 atrial fibrillation patients draw lots to participate or not in a rehabilitation program with education and exercise training in addition to usual treatment. We measured fitness by a bicycle test at the beginning of the study and after 3 and 6 months, moreover participants filled out questionnaires on quality of life at the beginning of the study and after 3, 6 and 12 months. We found that our rehabilitation program may have a short term (but no long term) effect on quality of life and fitness in atrial fibrillation patients.


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