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.
What happens to the heart?
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.
What causes it?
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.
Causes of diastolic heart failure
What is it?
How it causes heart failure
Coronary artery disease (CAD)
Blockage of the arteries that supply blood to the
Low blood flow to the heart muscle (ischemia) can
prevent the heart from relaxing and filling with blood.
High blood pressure
Elevated pressure in your arteries
Heart muscle can thicken the wall of the heart
(hypertrophy) in an effort to pump against high blood pressure. Thickened heart
muscle limits the heart's ability to relax and fill with blood.
Narrowed opening of the aortic valve
The left ventricle thickens, limiting its ability to
Inherited abnormality of heart muscle resulting in
very thick walls of the left ventricle
Thick heart muscle prevents blood from filling the
Abnormality of the sac that surrounds the heart
Fluid in the pericardial space (pericardial
tamponade) or a thickened pericardium (pericardial constriction) can limit the
heart's ability to fill.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.