BACKGROUND: Limited research has been done on depression and quality of life in long-term survival after heart transplantation. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of age on depression and quality of life in a sample of long-term heart transplant recipients. METHODS: We investigated 137 consecutive patients recruited in a single center who were still alive at more than 10 years after transplantation. Quality of life and depression were rated with the Medical Outcome Study Short Form (SF-36) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), respectively. Sociodemographic, clinical, affective, and quality of life data for long-term survival patients stratified by current age younger than 70 years (young) and 70 years or older (old) were compared using Fisher's exact tests and Student's t-tests. RESULTS: The SF-36 Mental Component Summary did not significantly differ between the young subjects (48.75 +/- 10.2) compared with old (48.47 +/- 10.1; p = 0.897). By contrast, the SF-36 Physical Component Summary was higher in younger subjects (46.88 +/- 10.2 vs 40.81 +/- 10.6, p = 0.008). According to BDI, 37.4% of the young group and 13.3% of the old group scored above the selected threshold of 10 (p = 0.014). CONCLUSIONS: In the light of our findings, older age does not seem to negatively affect the mental component of quality of life in the long term after heart transplantation, but it does on the physical component, as expected. On the other hand, it may be even associated with a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms more than 10 years after surgery. Hence, age per se does not represent a major limiting factor when considering candidates for this procedure, at least with regard to the issue of psychologic distress
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