Agreement between heart failure patients and providers in assessing New York Heart Association functional class

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Abstract

Background

Uncertainty persists regarding whether patient assessment of New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional classification should be preferred over provider assessment among patients with heart failure (HF).

Objectives

To compare patient against provider NYHA assessments, and both to distance walked on a 6-minute walk test (6MWT) among patients with HF.

Methods

In this prospective study, we enrolled 101 HF patients who self-assessed NYHA classification. Health care providers who were blinded to patient ratings of NYHA also rated NYHA. Patients completed a 6MWT according to a standardized protocol. We used Spearman coefficients (rs) to evaluate the correlations between variables.

Results

Patient- and provider-determined NYHA class were poorly correlated, but the relationship was statistically significant (rs = 0.40, p < 0.001). Patients consistently reported better NYHA class (class I: 72% vs 15%) than providers. Provider-determined NYHA had a stronger correlation with 6MWT distance (rs = −0.36, p < 0.001 vs. rs = −0.22, p = 0.03). Providers assigned a worse class to older patients who had comorbidity; patients with dyspnea and longer HF duration assigned themselves a worse class.

Conclusion

Patients and providers exhibited poor agreement in NYHA assignment.

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