March 21, 2012

Is Your Heart Failing?

(Ivanhoe Newswire)-- Are you at risk for developing heart failure? If you have hypotension, you may be!

Heart failure affects 5.7 million people in the United States and caused over 281,000 deaths in 2008. Researchers found that there may be more of a connection between orthostatic hypotension and heart failure in people 45-55 years old bracket compared to those aged 56-64. High blood pressure, which was present in over half of people who developed heart failure, may be partially responsible for the association.

With a span over 17.5 years of follow-up, researchers looked at the link between orthostatic hypotension and developing heart failure. They measured patients' blood pressure while lying down and shortly after standing up.

Orthostatic hypotension was defined as a decrease of 20 points or more in the systolic (top number) or a decrease of 10 or more points in the diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure measurements.

The researchers based the definition of heart failure on either hospital admission or death certificate diagnoses.

They found that about 11 percent of patients who developed heart failure had orthostatic hypotension at the start of the study, compared with only 4 percent of those who did not develop heart failure.

They also discovered that people with orthostatic hypotension had 1.54 times the risk of developing heart failure that those without orthostatic hypotension; however, after excluding those with high blood pressure, the risk fell to 1.34 times.

"Orthostatic hypotension appears to be related to the development of heart failure along with other conditions known to cause heart failure," Christine DeLong Jones, M.D., study lead author and preventive medicine resident at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was quoted as saying.

"Hypertension, diabetes and coronary heart disease are already known to contribute to a person's risk of developing heart failure. Orthostatic blood pressure measurement may supplement what is already known about the risk for heart failure and requires no additional equipment, just a standard blood pressure cuff."

Researchers found that even when adjusting for existing diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and coronary heart disease, participants with orthostatic hypotension at the start of the study were still more likely to develop heart failure than those without it.

The disease occurs when the heart pumps inefficiently, which results in inadequate delivery of blood to the body's cells and organs. Discovering factors that may predict heart failure is important to preventing the disease, Jones said.

SOURCE: Hypertension, March 2012.