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Quality of life four years after myocardial infarction: short form 36 scores compared with a normal population
  1. (Formerly) Division of Cardiology
  2. The Toronto Hospital (General Division)
  3. Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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Editor,—Brown et alcompared the quality of life of patients after myocardial infarction with age and sex adjusted population norms from Oxford (age < 65 years) and Sheffield (age > 65 years).1 This takes no account of social class or place of residence, which are known to influence health profile results.2 Why not use controls and patients from the same community? Also, a comparison of the change in physical functioning score between the two age ranges shows a much greater fall in the controls (24.65 v12.06). This suggests that the Oxford and Sheffield norms are not comparable and therefore confounds any attempt to make inferences by age group. The eight (short form) SF-36 scales can be summarised into physical and mental components, which are standardised to a mean score of 50, the population norm.3 This allows interpretation of the quality of life of patients in relation to a general population and has been validated for the UK version of the SF-36.4Surely this is preferable, and more clinically meaningful, to using something as obscure as principal components analysis, which few readers are likely to understand.

Patients who have had a myocardial infarction commonly have a cluster of coronary risk factors such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and obesity. Furthermore, atherosclerosis is a systemic disease with many manifestations, and these patients may also suffer from other smoking related conditions. This total burden of illness is likely to have a profound effect on their health profile, swamping the contribution …

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