The objectives of the study were to analyse the impact of increasing lower-limb ischaemia upon quality of life and to assess the correlation between clinical indicators of lower-limb ischaemia and such quality. A prospective observational study of a consecutive series of 235 patients (144 men and 91 women; median age 68 (range 41-87) years presenting with varying degrees of lower-limb ischaemia graded according to ISCVS criteria was performed. Data was collected at interview before any intervention. Clinical indicators of lower-limb perfusion included: intermittent claudication and maximum walking distance on standardized treadmill testing; ankle:brachial pressure indices and isotope limb blood flow. Quality of life analysis was performed using the EuroQol (EQ) questionnaire. This is a standardized generic instrument for describing health-related quality of life and consists of a descriptive system of five dimensions, each measured on three levels. Thus, a profile and two single indices of quality of life were derived using different methods. Increasing lower-limb ischaemia results in a statistically significant deterioration in both global quality of life and in all EQ-measured quality of life dimensions (P < 0.01 Kruskal-Wallis, ANOVA). The correlation between clinical indicators and quality of life is statistically significant but not sufficiently close (correlation coefficients < 0.6) to assume that variations in clinical indicators result in reciprocal variations in quality of life. In conclusion, as might be expected, a significant correlation exists between clinical indicators of lower-limb ischaemia and health-related quality of life. However, the low correlation coefficients emphasize how tenuous the association is. Thus, a significant improvement in the clinical indicators of lower-limb ischaemia cannot be assumed to impart a similar benefit on quality of life. The latter concept must therefore be analysed independently
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