Pupil size may predict death in patients with heart failure

Pupil size may predict death in patients with heart failure

Looking into the eyes of a patient with heart failure can tell doctors how long they have to live, a study has revealed.

The research found that patients with larger eye pupils are consistently more likely to survive heart failure and to stay out of hospital.

The study, published by the European Society of Cardiology, found that people with smaller pupils were twice as likely to die. Meanwhile, 47% of those with small pupils were readmitted to hospital, compared with just 28% of those with large pupils.

Study author Dr Kohei Nozaki, of Kitasato University Hospital in Japan, said: "Our results suggest that pupil area is a novel way to identify heart patients at elevated risk of death or hospital readmission. This provides an opportunity to intervene and improve outlook."

The study photographed the eyes of 870 patients who were hospitalised with acute heart failure. It was conducted in 870 patients hospitalised for acute heart failure in 2012 to 2017. The average age was 67 years and 37% were women. Pupil area was measured in both eyes at least 7 days after hospital admission.

Patients were divided into the small pupil area group and large pupil area group according to whether their measurement was below or above the average. Large pupil area was consistently linked with favourable survival - regardless of age, sex, and the presence of either normal heart rhythm or atrial fibrillation, Daily Mail reported.

Dr Nozaki added: "Our study indicates that it could be used in daily clinical practice to predict prognosis in patients with heart failure, including those who also have atrial fibrillation. Patients with a small pupil area could be prioritised for cardiac rehabilitation with physical activity, which has been reported to improve autonomic function."

He noted that pupil area cannot be used in patients with severe retinopathy or other eye diseases. 

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