The Role of the Clinical Examination in Patients With Heart Failure

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Abstract

Despite advances in biomarkers and technology, the clinical examination (i.e., a history and physical examination) remains central in the management of patients with heart failure. Specifically, the clinical examination allows noninvasive assessment of the patient's underlying hemodynamic state, based on whether the patient has elevated ventricular filling pressures and/or an inadequate cardiac index. Such assessments provide important prognostic information and help guide therapeutic decision-making. Herein, we critically assess the utility of the clinical examination for these purposes and provide practical tips we have gleaned from our practice in the field of advanced heart failure. We note that the ability to assess for congestion is superior to that for inadequate perfusion. Furthermore, in current practice, elevated left ventricular filling pressures are inferred by findings related to an elevated right atrial pressure. We discuss an emerging classification system from the clinical examination that categorizes patients based on whether elevation of ventricular filling pressures occurs on the right side, left side, or both sides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJACC: Heart Failure
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018

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Keywords

  • bendopnea
  • clinical examination
  • hemodynamics
  • jugular venous pressure
  • prognosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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