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Diastolic heart failure occurs when the lower left chamber (left ventricle) is not able to fill properly with blood during the diastolic (filling) phase. The amount of blood pumped out to the body is less than normal.
Diastole is the phase of your
heartbeat when your heart relaxes and fills with blood. Diastolic dysfunction
means that your left ventricle cannot relax properly during diastole. As a
result, your ventricle doesn't fill with enough blood before it pumps. If
diastolic dysfunction is severe enough, it can lead to heart failure.
Diastolic heart failure happens because the left ventricle's muscle
becomes too stiff or thickened. To compensate for stiff heart muscle, your
heart has to increase the pressure inside the ventricle to properly fill the
ventricle. Over time, this increased filling causes blood to build up inside
the left atrium and eventually into the lungs, which leads to fluid congestion
and the symptoms of heart failure.
Diastolic heart failure may not lower the heart's ejection fraction. Ejection fraction is a measurement of how well the heart is pumping out blood. This ejection fraction is typically lower in people who have systolic heart failure. But in diastolic heart
failure, your left ventricle may pump well during systole; it is just not
filling with enough blood during diastole. Your ventricle may have a normal
ejection fraction, but it has less blood inside it to pump out. As a result,
your ventricle pumps out less blood with each beat. Doctors sometimes call it heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.
The most common cause of
diastolic heart failure is the natural effect of
aging on the heart. As you age, your heart muscle tends to stiffen, which can
prevent your heart from filling with blood properly, leading to diastolic heart
But there are many health problems that can impair your left
ventricle's ability to fill properly with blood during diastole.
What is it?
How it causes heart failure
High blood pressure
Elevated pressure in your arteries
Other Works Consulted
Yancy CW, et al. (2013). 2013 ACCF/AHA Guideline for the management of heart failure: A report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 62(16): e147–e239.
Current as of:
March 12, 2014
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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