Weight Loss May Be a Warning Sign for Heart-Failure Patients

Weight loss may be harmful for heart failure patients who have implanted medical devices used to help regulate their cardiac rhythm, researchers said.

Their study of 994 patients who have devices that synchronize the heart’s contractions found those who lost even a little weight had a significantly greater risk of worsening heart failure or death. The findings, slated for presentation at the American College of Cardiology meeting this weekend in San Francisco, suggest doctors should closely monitor patients’ weight, said lead researcher Valentina Kutyifa.

The risk of worsening heart failure or death rose 4 percent with each kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, of weight lost, the study found. In patients with a condition known as left bundle branch block, weight loss doubled the danger. Heart failure typically requires high energy demand, so heavier patients may have more reserves that help them survive, Kutyifa said.

“Unplanned weight loss might be a warning sign that something bad is going on,” said Kutyifa, a research associate at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. “All patients who lose weight with implanted devices should have checkups and physicians should monitor them more closely,” she said in a telephone interview.

The researchers analyzed findings from the Madit-CRT trial, a study funded by Natick, Massachusetts-based Boston Scientific Corp. It is the first to show weight loss may be linked to increased health complications in patients with the devices that provide cardiac resynchronization therapy, Kutyifa said.

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