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This obvious symptom can help alert doctors that heart failure patients have excessive fluid retention, according to cardiologists from the UT Southwestern Medical Center, in Dallas.
"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," study first author Dr. Jennifer Thibodeau said in a medical center news release.
"So we developed this study to further investigate this symptom," said Thibodeau, an assistant professor of internal medicine in the center's division of cardiology.
The researchers identified the condition -- which they called bendopnea -- after assessing 102 heart patients.
"We discovered that patients with bendopnea had too much fluid in their bodies, causing elevated pressures," Thibodeau said. When they bent forward, these pressures increased even more."
The study was published recently in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Heart Failure.
In heart failure, the heart can't pump enough blood to meet the body's needs, according to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Bendopnea is not a risk factor for heart failure, but rather a sign that heart failure is becoming more serious and patients might require changes to their medications or treatments, Thibodeau said.
There are 5.7 million Americans with heart failure, and about 10 percent of them have advanced heart failure, according to the American Heart Association.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: UT Southwestern Medical Center, news release, March 18, 2014