New Heart Failure Symptom Defined

Heart failure symptom called bendopnea could help spot fluid retention and worsening condition

(RxWiki News) For the millions of Americans living with heart failure, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms that accompany the condition. Doctors have found a new symptom of heart failure that could lead to more effective treatment.

Bendopnea is the name researchers have given a newly defined symptom seen in advanced heart failure patients.

The condition is characterized by shortness of breath while bending over, like when putting on shoes, for instance.

The researchers think the easily detectable symptom could help diagnose fluid retention in heart failure patients, a sign of a potentially worsening condition.

"Talk to your doctor immediately about any shortness of breath."

Jennifer Thibodeau, MD, MSc, assistant professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Cardiology at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, led this research.

Her team studied 102 patients referred for cardiac treatment and found that nearly one third had bendopnea.

Doctors had participants lay flat while they measured blood pressure and cardiac output, a calculation of how well the heart is pumping blood around the body.

The measurements were taken again in 65 patients after they were sitting for two minutes then bending over for one minute.

Dr. Thibodeau and team concluded that awareness of bendopnea can improve noninvasive assessment of heart failure-related conditions.

These researchers found that bendopnea was not a risk factor for heart failure but a symptom that heart failure patients were becoming sicker.

“Some patients thought they were short of breath because they were out of shape or overweight, but we wondered if there was something more to it,” Dr. Thibodeau said.

“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,” she said.

While the symptom has been reported by patients, it had never been defined.

Heart failure is when the heart cannot pump enough oxygen-rich blood to body cells. More than 5 million Americans live with some form of heart failure.

"This study is enlightening as it adds another very useful and novel symptom to further screen or assess patients with congestive heart failure," said Mohan Sathyamoorthy, MD, FACC, Chief, Cardiovascular Division, Baylor All Saints Medical Center.

"Bendopena, as investigators in this study have termed it, refers to significant difficulty breathing when bending over. They were able to demonstrate in this study ... that this symptom was significantly associated with more fluid accumulation, a state during which congestive heart failure can become symptomatic and potentially dangerous for a patient," Dr. Sathyamoorthy said.

"Use of this new symptom in evaluating patients may help us treat these patients more effectively in the future," he told dailyRx News.

This study was published in February by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Heart Failure.

Review Date: 
March 20, 2014