Diastolic heart failure.Cardiovasc Res. 2000 Mar; 45(4):813-25.CR
Primary diastolic failure is typically seen in patients with hypertensive or valvular heart disease as well as in hypertrophic or restrictive cardiomyopathy but can also occur in a variety of clinical disorders, especially tachycardia and ischemia. Diastolic dysfunction has a particularly high prevalence in elderly patients and is generally associated, with low mortality but high morbidity. The pathophysiology of diastolic dysfunction includes delayed relaxation, impaired LV filling and/or increased stiffness. These conditions result typically in an upward displacement of the diastolic pressure-volume relationship with increased end-diastolic, left atrial and pulmo-capillary wedge pressure leading to symptoms of pulmonary congestion. Diagnosis of diastolic heart failure requires three conditions: (1) presence of signs or symptoms of heart failure; (2) presence of normal or slightly reduced LV ejection fraction (EF > 50%) and (3) presence of increased diastolic filling pressure. Assessment of diastolic function can be performed with several non-invasive (2D- and Doppler-echocardiography, color Doppler M-mode, Doppler tissue imaging, MR-myocardial tagging, radionuclide ventriculography) and invasive techniques (micromanometry, angiography, conductance method). Doppler-echocardiography is the most useful tool to routinely measure diastolic function. Different techniques can be used alone or in combination to assess LV diastolic function, but most of them are dependent on heart rate, pre- and afterload. The transmitral flow pattern remains the starting point, since it is easy to acquire and rapidly categorizes patients into normal (E > A), delayed relaxation (E < A), and restrictive (E >> A) filling patterns. Invasive assessment of diastolic function allows determination of the time constant of relaxation from the exponential pressure decay during isovolumic relaxation, and the evaluation of the passive elastic properties from the slope of the diastolic pressure-volume (= constant of chamber stiffness) and stress-strain relationship (= constant of myocardial stiffness). The prognosis of diastolic heart failure is usually better than for systolic dysfunction. Diastolic heart failure is associated with a lower annual mortality rate of approximately 8% as compared to annual mortality of 19% in heart failure with systolic dysfunction, however, morbidity rate can be substantial. Thus, diastolic heart failure is an important clinical disorder mainly seen in the elderly patients with hypertensive heart disease. Early recognition and appropriate therapy of diastolic dysfunction is advisable to prevent further progression to diastolic heart failure and death. There is no specific therapy to improve LV diastolic function directly. Medical therapy of diastolic dysfunction is often empirical and lacks clear-cut pathophysiologic concepts. Nevertheless, there is growing evidence that calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, ACE-inhibitors and AT2-blockers as well as nitric oxide donors can be beneficial. Treatment of the underlying disease is currently the most important therapeutic approach.