Patient Questionnaire Can Gauge Heart Failure Risk

23 points can help spot who's in gravest danger, experts say

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MONDAY, April 9, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- A 23-item questionnaire may help doctors identify heart failure patients at greatest risk of death or hospitalization, according to a study in the journal Circulation.

The study of 1,358 patients found that every five-point drop in score on the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire (KCCQ) was associated with a 12 percent increased risk of cardiovascular death or hospitalization and an 11 percent increased risk in all-cause death.

The patients filled out the questionnaire four times: one month, three months, six months and a year after they developed heart failure.

Among the questions on the KCCQ:

  • Over the past two weeks on average, how many times has shortness of breath limited your ability to do what you wanted?
  • Compared with two weeks ago, have your symptoms of heart failure (shortness of breath, fatigue or ankle swelling) changed?
  • Heart failure symptoms can worsen for a number of reasons. How sure are you that you know what to do, or whom to call, if your heart failure gets worse?
  • Over the past two weeks, how much has your heart failure limited your enjoyment of life?

The KCCQ was developed by Dr. John Spertus, director of outcomes research at the Mid-America Heart Institute, professor of medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and adjunct professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. Spertus, who owns the copyright to the KCCQ, was senior author of the study.

"Physicians who treat the nearly five million heart failure patients in this country have been looking for a rule of thumb to help determine which patients might benefit from the most aggressive care, and this one looks promising," Spertus said in a prepared statement.

"The Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire is low-cost, non-invasive, easy to administer and quantifies patients' perspectives on their heart failure. It takes five to eight minutes to complete, and the data can be put in an Excel spreadsheet, so physicians can graph changes over time," Spertus said.

The study was funded by Pfizer, Inc. The authors of the paper disclosed financial ties to industry, such as consultancies, honoraria or grant support from Pfizer, Amgen, Lilly and other pharmaceutical companies.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about heart failure.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, April 9, 2007

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