Doctors May Be Missing Crucial Diagnosis

Heart failure is more common than believed, study says

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Many patients with heart failure aren't being diagnosed by their primary-care physicians, says a new study in the British medical journal The Lancet. The disease is treatable, but doctors must first diagnosis it, explains this article from the BBC News. The problem is many physicians don't realize how prevalent the condition is, the article says.

Researchers from the University of Birmingham randomly selected almost 4,000 patients from 16 different general practitioners. They reviewed the patients' medical histories. They also ran heart-function tests, such as echocardiography, on the patients.

The researchers found that 92 patients had heart failure and another 32 probably had heart failure. One hundred and thirty-nine patients were classified as "borderline."

"Accurate identification of all patients with heart failure is important, since treatments are available that can alleviate symptoms, delay progression of the disorder and improve prognosis," says the lead author of the study, Richard Hobbs.

Symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, chronic fatigue, swollen ankles or legs, chest pain, loss of appetite and shifts in weight, according to this article from HeartFailure.org.

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