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Shortness of breath while bending over linked to heart failure

IANS  |  New York 

Have you ever noticed shortness of breath while bending over such as when putting on shoes? Get alarmed as this may be a symptom of heart failure.

The condition, which cardiologists at University of Texas' (UT) southwestern medical center refer to as 'bendopnea', is an easily detectable symptom that can help doctors diagnose excessive fluid retention in patients with heart failure.

"Some patients thought they were short of breath because they were out of shape or overweight. We wondered if there was something more to it. So we developed this study to further investigate this symptom," said Jennifer Thibodeau, assistant professor of internal medicine at University of Texas.

'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.

To understand this condition, doctors enrolled 102 patients who were referred to the cardiac catheterisation lab for right heart catheterisation and found that nearly one-third of the patients 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," Thibodeau observed.

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

Patients should speak with their cardiologist or health care provider if they experience bendopnea, Thibodeau noted in a paper published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Heart Failure.

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First Published: Wed, March 19 2014. 12:28 IST