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4 factors linked to heart failure death

November 12, 2013
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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Four factors can identify residents with heart failure (also called congestive heart failure) who might benefit from pacemakers, heart pumps or heart transplantation, according to researchers in Sweden. Such interventions can prevent early death sometimes attributed to age, they say, so request additional medical attention for those who exhibit these signs.

When a person has heart failure, according to the American Heart Association, his or her heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body's needs for blood and oxygen. Researchers from the Karolinska Institute, Linkoping University, Stockholm South General Hospital and Karolinska University Hospital identified the four risk factors tied to death from heart failure by analyzing data from 10,000 people in the Swedish Heart Failure Registry. Early death among those in the registry was due to heart failure rather than factors such as age, they found.

The risk factors:

  • Poor pump capacity;
  • Poor kidney function;
  • Low blood count; and
  • No treatment with ACE inhibitors and beta blockers.

Heart failure affects more than 10 percent of the elderly worldwide, the researchers note, and it is associated with high risk for early death and reduced quality of life. People often do not receive optimal treatment, however, because although generalist physicians may be familiar with drugs to treat heart failure, they have limited awareness of modern pacemakers, heart pumps and heart transplantation.

“Currently, less than 5 percent of patients with heart failure receive heart failure pacemakers, and many fewer receive heart pumps or transplantation,” says study leader Lars H. Lund, MD, PhD (pictured), of the Karolinska Institute. “Our findings suggest that many more need these treatments and should be referred to heart failure specialists for evaluation.”

The findings were published online by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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