What Is Diastolic Heart Failure?

If you have diastolic heart failure, your left ventricle has become stiffer than normal. Because of that, your heart can't relax the way it should. When it pumps, it can't fill up with blood as it's supposed to. Because there's less blood in the ventricle, less blood is pumped out to your body.

What Causes It?

 

As we get older, our heart and blood vessels become less elastic. That makes them more likely to get stiff. So diastolic heart failure is more common as people get older. Other than normal aging, the most common causes are:

High blood pressure : If you have it, your heart has to work harder to pump more blood through your body. Thanks to that extra work, your heart muscle may get thicker or larger, and it eventually gets stiff.

Diabetes : The disease can cause the wall of your heart to thicken. That makes it stiffen.

Coronary artery disease : The amount of blood flowing to your heart muscle is blocked or less than normal.

Obesity/inactivity: With either, your heart has to work much harder to pump blood.

Symptoms

Common signs of heart failure can include:

Diagnosis

 

To figure out if you have heart failure, your doctor will examine you, ask about your medical history, and run some tests. Those tests might include:

  • An echocardiogram to check for diastolic dysfunction
  • Blood tests
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Chest X-ray
  • Exercise test (stress test)
  • Heart catheterization

 

Treatment

Although diastolic heart failure can't be cured, treatment can help ease symptoms and improve the way your heart pumps.

Your plan can include:

Lifestyle changes: Your doctor will probably suggest:

Medication: You may need to take one or more drugs as part of your treatment. Common heart failure medications for diastolic heart failure include:

  • Diuretics, which help ease swelling
  • Mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists, a type of diuretic to get rid of extra salt and fluid but help the body keep potassium
  • High blood pressure medication

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on March 21, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

American Heart Association: "What is Heart Failure?" "Types of Heart Failure," "Warning Signs of Heart Failure."

UpToDate: "Patient education: Heart failure (Beyond the Basics)."

Cleveland Clinic: "Understanding Heart Failure: Types."

HeartHealthyWomen.org: "Diastolic Heart Failure."

National Jewish Health: "Diastolic Dysfunction."

Cleveland Clinic: "Understanding Heart Failure."

Cedars-Sinai: "Heart Failure."

Baptist Health: "Diastolic Heart Failure."

American Heart Association: "Common Tests for Heart Failure."

FamilyDoctor.org: "Heart Failure."

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "What is Heart Failure?"

© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.