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Shortness of Breath Could be a New Symptom of Heart Failure, Research Suggests

First Posted: Mar 18, 2014 03:48 PM EDT
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Cardiologists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have defined a new heart failure symptom in their study entitled, "Characterization of a Novel Symptom of Advanced Heart Failure: Bendopnea."

Learning about a new symptom for an aspect of heart disease may be useful for researchers. As a top cause of death worldwide, heart disease claims 600,000 lives in the U.S. each year, which accounts for 25% of all deaths. Additionally, 715,000 Americans have a heart attack each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers at the UT Southwestern Medical Center conducted a study that sought to reveal more information about shortness of breath in heart failure patients. Dr. Jennifer Thibodeau, an assistant professor of internal medicine in the Division of Cardiology, noted that patients were experiencing shortness of breath and attributed it to them being overweight or out of shape.

"We wondered if there was something more to it. So we developed this study to further investigate this symptom," said Dr. Thibodeau in this UT Southwestern Medical Center news release. The study consisted of 102 patients who were referred to UT Southwestern's cardiac catheterization lab for right heart catheterization.

The cardiologists measured pressure in the patients' heart and cardiac output (how well the heart is pumping blood to the rest of the body) while the volunteers were lying flat, sitting in a chair, and bending over. They found that the patients with "bendopnea," or a shortness of breath while bending over, had excess fluids in their bodies which caused elevated pressures.

The cardiologists and researchers suggest that patients who have heart failure should speak to both their doctor and health care provider regarding bendopnea if they experience a shortness of breath while bending over. 5.7 million Americans are currently living with some sort of heart failure, so it's important every red flag is addressed when being diagnosed and treated.

To read more about the UT Southwestern Mecial Center study, visit the published version in the Journal of American College of Cardiology.

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