Background Living with an implanted cardioverter-defibrillator increases survival, but the effects of the device on health status, quality of life, and psychological state over time are not clear.

Objectives To investigate changes in health status, quality of life, and psychological state associated with implantation of a cardioverter-defibrillator from implantation to 4 years later.

Methods A prospective, longitudinal design was used to measure changes in scores on the Short Form 36 of the Medical Outcomes Study, the Quality of Life Index–Cardiac III, and the Profile of Moods States short form at implantation, 6 months, and 1, 2, 3, and 4 years later.

Results A total of 30 men and 11 women (mean age, 60.4 years) completed all 4 years of follow-up. The physical and mental health composite summary scores of the Short Form 36 changed significantly over time; the mental health score improved (F = 2.95; P = .03), and the physical score worsened (F = 3.69; P = .003). Scores on the Quality of Life Index–Cardiac III did not change significantly. Negative moods were significantly fewer, and the total psychological distress score was significantly lower (F = 10.21; P < .001) during the 4 years of follow-up.

Conclusions Patients had improved mental health and reduced psychological distress by 6 months after implantation. Perception of physical health declined during the 4 years after implantation; the role physical subscore of the Short Form 36 indicated significant improvement in functioning at 6 months and a trend toward reduced functioning at 3 and 4 years after implantation.

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