Penn Study Shows Size, Strength of Heart's Right Side Varies Between Age, Genders, Racial/Ethnic Groups

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Media Contact:Jessica Mikulski | | 215-349-8369June 6, 2011

Researchers at the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have shown that the size and pumping ability of the right side of the heart differs by age, gender and racial/ethnic groups.

"The right ventricle pumps blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen, so all types of lung diseases — chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, and sleep apnea — can affect the right side of the heart," said study author Steven Kawut, M.D., M.S., associate professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and director of the Pulmonary Vascular Disease Program at the Perelman School of Medicine. "The results from our study show underlying differences in people without clinical heart disease and could explain the variability of the right ventricular response in people with cardiopulmonary disease."

The study, reported in the June 6 edition of Circulation, also suggests that understanding the fundamental differences in the right side of the heart gives doctors and researchers a basis for determining what is abnormal. The researchers think that changes in right ventricle size and function may be a sign of cardiopulmonary disease (conditions that involve both the heart and lungs).

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