Shortness of breath linked to heart failure

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 23:00
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Washington: Do you often experience shortness of breath when bending over to put on shoes? Beware, it may be a telltale sign of heart failure.

Researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have defined a novel heart failure symptom in advanced heart failure patients: shortness of breath while bending over, such as when putting on shoes.

The condition, named "bendopnea", is an easily detectable symptom that can help doctors diagnose excessive fluid retention in patients with heart failure, researchers said.

"Some patients thought they were short of breath because they were out of shape or overweight, but we wondered if there was something more to it. So we developed this study to further investigate this symptom," said Dr Jennifer Thibodeau, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Cardiology.

Thibodeau, first author of the study, cautioned that bendopnea is not a risk factor for heart failure, but rather a symptom that heart failure patients are becoming sicker and may need to have their medications or treatments adjusted.

Bendopnea is a way for both doctors and patients to recognise something may be amiss with their current heart failure treatment.

Patients should speak with their cardiologist or health care provider if they experience bendopnea, said Thibodeau.

UT Southwestern doctors enrolled 102 patients who were referred to the cardiac catheterisation lab for right heart catheterisation and found that nearly one-third of the subjects had bendopnea.

When the patients were lying flat, clinicians measured both the pressures within the heart as well as the cardiac output - how well the heart is pumping blood to the rest of the body - in all 102 patients.

Then, they repeated these measurements in 65 patients after they were sitting in a chair for two minutes, and then bending over for one minute.

"We discovered that patients with bendopnea had too much fluid in their bodies, causing elevated pressures, and when they bent forward, these pressures increased even more," said Thibodeau.

The findings were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Heart Failure. 

PTI

First Published: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 23:00

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