Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Seven-point system gauges seriousness of heart failure in elderly

A simple points system may soon help guide treatment of elderly heart failure patients. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that by counting how many of seven easy-to-obtain health factors a patient has, physicians can estimate the patient's risk of dying.
The points system may steer doctors toward considering more aggressive treatments such as implantable defibrillators and pacemakers for those at low risk of death. However, elderly patients with a high risk may want to avoid stressful and unnecessary medical intervention and may benefit most from palliative or hospice care.

"It has typically been very difficult to predict how long a person hospitalized with heart failure may survive," says senior author Michael W. Rich, M.D., associate professor of medicine and a geriatric cardiologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. "That has made it hard for the treating physician to know how aggressive to be with therapy."

Heart failure afflicts about 5 million people in the United States, hospitalizing more than a million patients each year. The incidence of heart failure increases with age, and with people 65 and older becoming the fastest growing segment of the population, the personal and financial burden of heart failure will likely increase.

In their study, which followed 282 elderly heart failure patients for up to 14 years, the researchers identified seven factors that most affect patient survival:

  • advanced age
  • a history of dementia (contributes to a host of conditions related to the inability to properly care for oneself)
  • coronary artery disease (arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle are hardened and narrowed)
  • peripheral vascular disease (similar to coronary artery disease but involving blood vessels outside of the heart and brain)
  • low sodium in the blood (an indication of neurohormonal imbalance)
  • high urea in the blood (a reflection of poor cardiac output that affects kidney function)
  • low blood pressure (a result of weakened heart function).

The study, published in the September 25th issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, showed that patients with four or more of the risk factors had a low probability of surviving longer than six months. But if patients had none or just one of the factors, they had a good chance of living five years or more. Patients with two to three factors were likely to live at least a year. The patients in the study received a variety of treatments as determined by their physicians.

"The system is easy to use, and the variables don't require any specialized testing -- they are part of routine medical histories or basic lab tests," Rich says. "If the system can be validated by further studies, it can play a role in helping physicians tailor care to individual patients. If a person has a limited life expectancy, it may not be in his or her best interest to recommend invasive, uncomfortable or risky procedures. On the other hand, an elderly person with only one risk factor could potentially be considered a good candidate for an aggressive treatment such as a defibrillator."

Other factors that might have been expected to affect survival, such as the amount of blood the heart can eject during pumping or a patient's body mass index, didn't seem to influence survival times. Rich emphasizes that each of the factors identified has been linked in previous studies to poor prognosis in heart failure patients.

"We didn't find any new risk factors, which means there's good data to support that these factors truly are predictive," Rich says. "We've pinpointed the seven that are the most predictive and shown that the number of risk factors can give a reasonable estimate of the probability of living for six, 12 or 60 months."

The researchers next aim to better identify the heart failure patients not likely to survive six months so that they can be referred for hospice care.

"Hospice is very nurturing for both patients and family members," Rich says. "There is considerable evidence that patients derive significant benefit from it. If we can predict mortality within six months, we can more easily establish eligibility for hospice care."

Gwen Ericson | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>