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Weight Gain May Spell Trouble for Heart Failure Patients
Date:9/11/2007

It typically precedes their hospitalization, study finds

TUESDAY, Sept. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Short-term weight gain can signal worsening outcomes for heart failure patients, a new study shows.

Patients who gain as little as two pounds over the course of a few weeks may require hospitalization within the month, according to heart researchers. Heart failure patients who gain more than 10 pounds are eight times more likely than heart failure patients with stable weights to need hospitalization.

Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. Heart defects, high blood pressure, scarring from previous heart attacks and coronary artery disease can all lead to heart failure.

The study, published in the Sept. 11 issue of Circulation suggests that patients and their doctors may have several days or even weeks to control weight gain and avoid hospitalizations.

The Yale University research team analyzed weight data and hospitalization records from 268 heart failure patients who were weighing themselves daily as part of a disease management program. The average age of the patients was 74. The researchers compared the data from half of the patients who were hospitalized with the half who were not.

The analysis showed that the hospitalized patients had gained more weight than their peers in the month before hospitalization. In the week before hospitalization, weight increased rapidly.

Doctors have known for some time that weight increase may be a sign of worsening heart failure, but the impact of the timing and amount of weight gain on hospitalization has not been studied before, the researchers said.

"We found that even small amounts of weight gain -- as small as just over two pounds -- predict hospitalization," lead author Dr. Sarwat Chaudhry, assistant professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., said in a prepa
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