Harvard Heart Letter

A new warning sign for heart failure: "Bendopnea"

If you have heart failure and become short of breath when you bend over, tell your doctor. This symptom may be a warning sign for a more serious type of heart failure that demands additional medication or other treatments.

That's according to cardiologists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, who noticed that many of their patients with heart failure said that they became short of breath when they bent over to put on their shoes or socks. So the doctors recruited 102 people with heart failure for a study. Most were white men ages 60 to 65, and all were slated for a procedure to assess their heart function. Nearly a third of the participants had shortness of breath when bending over, or "bendopnea," as the cardiologists dubbed the symptom. They found that people with bendopnea had too much fluid in their bodies, which caused increased pressure and strain on the heart. Bending boosted the pressure even more.

Having bendopnea suggests that something may be amiss with a person's current heart failure treatment, say the authors, whose findings appear in JACC Heart Failure. 

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