Second kind of heart failure

A NEW study by scientists at Wake Forest University School of Medicine further characterises a second and distinct type of heart failure, a progressively debilitating condition common among older people.

The report appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), suggests that additional studies be undertaken to see if this second type of heart failure, called diastolic heart failure, is as amenable to treatment as the more well-recognized form of the disease.

The researchers compared 4 measures — left ventricular structure and function, exercise capacity, neuroendocrine function, and quality of life — among healthy volunteers, people with "classic" systolic heart failure (in which the heart's ability to contract decreases), and people with what is presumed to be diastolic heart failure (which occurs when the heart has a problem filling).

For most of the measures, the outcomes were similar, indicating that the people with both types of heart failures had very severely reduced exercise capacity, increased neuroendocrine activity, and impaired quality of life. The findings, researchers say, provide evidence that diastolic heart failure is a "real" heart failure syndrome, although not quite as severe as the systolic type of disease.

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