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Expert Rev Cardiovasc Ther. 2010 Feb;8(2):217-28. doi: 10.1586/erc.09.187.

So many definitions of heart failure: are they all universally valid? A critical appraisal.

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Cardiology Department, Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds LS1 3EX, UK.


Defining heart failure (HF) is a matter of finding the most appropriate words to formulate the definiens for HF that will be universally applicable in all specific circumstances pertaining to the nature of HF. Currently available definitions of HF contain ambiguities and notable deficiencies such that non-heart failure medical conditions can become mislabelled as heart failure. Principles of how best to formulate definitions have been employed to provide a guide on how to appraise published definitions of HF. A fundamental requirement of a good definition is that it should be universal, and by this criterion, we need to question the validity of a conventional dogma that a collection of clinical diagnostic features are equivalent to HF definitions. A long-standing deficiency in HF definitions is the inability to take into account the quantifiable extent of functional impairment of the heart. Other traditional misconceptions surrounding HF definitions have also been addressed. In line with Derek Gibson's proposal, we have rephrased William Harvey's description of the cardiac role in maintaining the circulation in terms of Newtonian physics and of the Law of Conservation of Energy to reach a more universal and less ambiguous definition of HF, with the objective of advancing the science of HF and the treatment of this distressing condition.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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