The patients who were the subject of the study have heart failure but normal ejection fractions the measurement of the heart's ability to pump blood. It was previously believed that heart failure patients with a normal ejection fraction had small, thick-walled hearts that made it exceedingly difficult for them to fill with enough blood. The Columbia study showed, however, that many patients with heart failure and normal ejection fractions had hearts that were bigger than average.
Unique 3-D Imaging System Allows Unprecedented Accuracy
Previous studies failed to account for the shape of the heart, but a one-of-a-kind three-dimensional imaging system developed by Columbia University Medical Center's Donald King, professor emeritus of radiology, provided an accurate measurement of heart shape. The other studies just measured heart width, but Dr. King's 3-D echocardiography system also measured heart length, proving that these patients did not have smaller hearts, as previously believed.
Prior to this study researcher had also compared the cardiac failure patients' hearts to a standardized heart size similar to that of a healthy 25 year old, rather than taking into account that this disease predominantly affects elderly women, who have smaller hearts.
"By accurately measuring patient heart size and comparing it to the hearts of healthy elderly women, we showed for the first time that not only were the heart failure hearts not smaller, but in many cases they were larger, meaning we need to look elsewhere to discover the roots of this problem," said Dr. Maurer.
The Columbia researchers measured left ventricular end-systolic and end-diastolic volumes in 35 heart failure patients with normal ejection fractions and hypertension, as well as 11 patients with heart failure and no high blood pressure and 99 asymptomatic normal controls. While all of the su
Contact: Craig LeMoult
Columbia University Medical Center