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New Tool Gauges Heart Failure Death Risk

Simple test identifies patients in greatest danger

TUESDAY, Feb. 1, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- Researchers say they've developed a new bedside evaluation tool to better predict death risk in hospitalized heart failure patients.

The tool should help doctors spot those patients at greater risk who may require closer monitoring and earlier, more intensive interventions, explained researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

The tool, outlined in a study in the Feb. 2 issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association, can be used during hospital admission and involves a combination of three simple measures from blood tests and by measuring vital signs.

"The new tool is a first for the treatment of acute heart failure, and offers a simple quick way for clinicians to assess mortality risk upon hospital admission and quickly decide on a treatment strategy," study lead author Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, a professor of cardiology, said in a prepared statement.

He and his colleagues developed a risk model based on data from a national registry of more than 100,000 heart failure patients. They tested the model using data on an additional 32,229 hospitalized heart failure patients.

They concluded that the single most important predictor for death in these patients was a high blood level of a compound called urea nitrogen (above 43 mg/dL), followed by a low systolic blood pressure (above 115 mm Hg) and a high blood level of another compound, creatinine (higher than 2.75 mg/dL).

The three-way risk assessment "provides clinicians with a practical, easy tool to use at the bedside. We were surprised that the risk tool using only three variables was able to dramatically distinguish between low, intermediate, and high risk heart failure patients," Fonarow said.

More information

The Cleveland Clinic Foundation has more about heart failure.

SOURCE: UCLA, news release, Feb. 1, 2005
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