Underlying Cause of Heart Failure Predicts Survival
WebMD News Archive
The study did not examine the effect of heart function when the patient was
first seen, nor of drugs or other treatments given, so "we can't conclude
definitively that it was diagnosis [alone] that determined survival,"
Michael M. Givertz, MD, tells WebMD when asked to review the study. He is
clinical director of the cardiomyopathy program at Boston University.
The researchers looked at survival between 1982 and1997 and found no
significant improvement with time. "If you look at this study, as well as
at community-based [studies such as from the] Mayo Clinic, we have not seen
improvement in survival with time," says Givertz. Medications called
"ACE-inhibitors and other medical therapies have been available for more
than 10 years, and heart transplant for more than 30 years, yet this has not
translated into improved survival.
"We have good therapies, but they tend to be underutilized in the
community," says Givertz. "There is a need for education among primary
care physicians as well as cardiologists. We could all be more aggressive in
the vigorous evaluation, treatment, and follow-up of heart failure, including
medical and nonmedical therapies such as diet and exercise. ... These
nonmedical therapies may be especially important in ... improving quality of
Suggestions for improving your diet and developing an exercise program to
decrease the risk of heart disease and improve quality of life in heart failure
can be found at the American Heart Association's web site.
Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle
doesn't pump as well as it should, and all cases are often lumped together and
diagnosed as cardiomyopathy.
New research shows, however, that the
underlying cause of cardiomyopathy can be important because it helps predict
how long a person with the disease will live.
A biopsy of the heart can help determine the
cause of cardiomyopathy, but in some patients no definite diagnosis can ever be