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Jul 12, 2011

New Information Regarding Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction

Study identifies new possible causes of heart failure.

Heart failure is a chronic condition caused by the heart’s inability to pump enough blood to the rest of the body. This is often the result of cardiovascular conditions that weaken or harden the heart over time, such as heart disease, and becomes more common with old age. Although much research has been conducted regarding heart failure in recent years, there is still much that remains unknown about this condition. However, recent studies have helped shed light on the difference between various causes of heart failure.

Over the years, researchers had thought there were only two main causes of heart failure — systolic heart failure (heart failure with a reduced ejection fraction) and diastolic heart failure (heart failure due to improper filling of the heart). Now, researchers have looked into heart failure with a preserved ejection fraction without diastolic failure.

In a study with nearly 75 patients, researchers found that heart failure patients with preserved ejection fraction actually had the same volume of blood in the heart during exercise as healthy individuals. This means that heart failure patients, whose hearts could effectively pump blood, were also able to fill up effectively during exercise. What then, researchers wonder, is the cause of their heart failure? This is a question that requires further research but points to factors unrelated to the heart — an important discovery. By identifying the source of heart failure symptoms, other than systolic and diastolic dysfunction, healthcare providers will become better equipped to control symptoms and treat patients more effectively.

Read this Article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What are common heart failure symptoms?

  • Heart failure symptoms often present themselves slowly but progress and worsen over time. These symptoms include shortness of breath; swelling of feet, ankles or abdomen; fatigue; cough and weight gain.
  • How is heart failure diagnosed?

  • There are many tests that doctors can use to diagnose heart failure, ranging from a physical examination to an x-ray, echocardiogram, stress test, MRI or blood test. If you think that you may have heart failure, make an appointment to see your healthcare provider as soon as possible. It is important to identify heart failure early in order to help manage symptoms and slow their progression.

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