"There has been a debate among doctors about whether patients with this newly recognized disorder truly have heart failure," said Dalane W. Kitzman, M.D., a Wake Forest cardiologist. "That is because there is no simple means to diagnose it and its symptoms could have other causes. This confusion has kept some patients from getting treatment and prevented researchers from finding the most effective way to treat the disorder."
In a study of 147 participants, researchers compared patients with the newly recognized form of heart failure to healthy normal subjects and also to patients with the classic form of heart failure. They measured exercise capacity, quality of life and hormone levels areas that have long been accepted as hallmarks of congestive heart failure.
Researchers found that compared to the healthy normal subjects, patients with the newly discovered type of heart failure had severely reduced exercise capacity and quality of life and increased hormone levels. These changes were similar to those measured in patients with the classic form of heart failure.
"Our research indicates that this newly recognized disorder is a true second form of heart failure," said Kitzman. "We have recently shown that it is associated with a substantial burden of excess disability and death in older Americans. This disorder should be the focus of intensive research."
With the more widely known type of congestive heart failure systolic heart failure the heart doesn't contract strongly enough. With the newly recognized type diastolic heart failure the heart's main chamber doesn't fill with enough blood, probably because the heart is stiffer than n
Contact: Karen Richardson
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center