UAB LogoA ventricle in a heart is said to be a chamber which can gather blood from an atrium and pumps it out of the heart. Scientists from University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) proposes that the capability of right side of the heart to pump blood could be a warning sign of the threat of death to heart-failure patients whose condition may be due to less performance by the left side of the heart.

The capability of the two chambers of the heart, the left and right ventricles, to pump blood appears to be defined as ejection fraction. Fit people seem to usually encompass ejection fractions between 50 and 65 percent in both chambers. Study authors at UAB are of the opinion that low right-ventricular ejection fraction (RVEF) is believed to have augmented the danger of death in patients having systolic heart failure. Heart failure may be linked to low left-ventricular ejection fraction.

“The role of the right ventricle in chronic systolic heart failure has been overlooked for many years, in part because it was considered to be merely a passive chamber. Studies of the effect of RVEF on outcomes in heart failure have been limited by small sample size and short follow-up,” commented Ali Ahmed, M.D, MPH., associate professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiovascular Disease and the senior author of the study,

By means of data from 2,008 patients with advanced chronic systolic heart failure in the Beta-Blocker Evaluation of Survival Trial sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, one of the National Institutes of Health, the UAB team seems to have found that death rates go up as RVEF come down.

Patients having a RVEF of more than 40 percent could have a death rate of 27 percent during the two-year study. But when the RVEF declined to lower than 20 percent, the death rate appeared to have augmented to almost half, or 47 percent, of the patients.

Ahmed mentioned, “Our study suggest that RVEF is a marker of poor prognosis in patients with heart failure and should be routinely measured to better identify these at-risk patients and provide appropriate therapy for them.”

Ahmed added that upcoming studies need to determine the risk factors for RVEF impairment and to develop and test interventions that may improve outcomes in heart failure patients with low RVEF.

The study was published in the journal Circulation.