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Int J Cardiol. 2012 Feb 9;154(3):265-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2010.09.029. Epub 2010 Oct 5.

Minor symptoms of depression in patients with congenital heart disease have a larger impact on quality of life than limited exercise capacity.

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Department of Pediatric Cardiology and Congenital Heart Disease, Deutsches Herzzentrum München, Technische Universität München, Lazarettstr. 36, D-80636 München, Germany.



In patients with congenital heart disease quality of life is only marginally associated with exercise capacity. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of depression and its impact on quality of life and exercise capacity.


From November 2007 to October 2009 a total of 767 patients (352 female, 14-67 years) with various congenital heart diseases (37 palliated/native cyanotic, 57 Fontan, 74 Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA) after atrial switch, 50 other TGA, 136 Fallot, 38 Ebstein, 47 Pulmonic stenosis/regurgitation, 68 aortic coarctation, 103 aortic stenosis, 90 isolated shunts, 67 other) completed the health-related quality of life questionnaire SF-36 and the German translation of the "Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale" (CES-D) to assess depressive symptoms. Afterwards a cardiopulmonary exercise test was performed.


Only 66 patients (8.6%) showed depressive symptoms fulfilling the CES-D definition for depression. The total prevalence of depression was lower than in the general population (Wilcoxon test, p<0.001) and did not differ substantially in between the diagnostic subgroups (Kruskal-Wallis test, p=0.195). CES-D score was correlated to all of the nine dimensions of quality of life (r=-0.170 to r=-0.740, p<0.001) and less pronounced to exercise capacity (r=-0.164, p<0.001). Correlation of peak oxygen uptake to quality of life was weaker than the CES-D scores in all subscales of life quality.


Patients with congenital heart disease are rarely depressive. However, even minor depressive symptoms have a stronger impact on quality of life than limited exercise capacity as seen in many patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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