What Is Diastolic Heart Failure?
Diastolic heart failure, or diastolic dysfunction, happens when the part of the heart responsible for pumping blood out to the rest of the body — the left ventricle — has stiffened. As a result, the heart can’t fill with blood between beats as it should.
A clinical measure of diastolic heart failure is preserved ejection fraction. Ejection fraction refers to how much blood the left ventricle pumps out. A normal ejection fraction is more than 55%. With diastolic heart failure, the left ventricle’s ejection fraction is preserved, meaning it is pumping out the blood it has sufficiently. But it isn’t filling properly between beats (diastolic dysfunction), so it has less blood to move along.
To compensate, your heart may increase pressure inside the ventricle — corresponding to the bottom number in your blood pressure reading — to try to fill it.
More patients with diastolic heart failure, diastolic dysfunction and other heart conditions entrust their care to Norton Heart & Vascular Institute than any other provider in the Louisville and Southern Indiana area. Our board-certified and fellowship-trained cardiologists and other specialists in the Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program are at the leading edge of advanced treatments for diastolic heart failure.
Systolic Versus Diastolic Heart Failure
The key difference between systolic and diastolic heart failure is in how well the left ventricle is pumping blood. As blood circulates though the heart, it’s final trip before going out to the rest of the body is the left ventricle. If it isn’t performing well, the body doesn’t get enough oxygen-rich blood, and fluids can back up — affecting the lungs, kidneys and other organs.
Diastolic heart failure means the left ventricle pumping out as it should, but when it relaxes to refill with blood between beats it isn’t taking in as much as it needs to. In cases of systolic heart failure, the left ventricle is filling with blood, but can’t pump it out effectively.
Diagnosing systolic versus diastolic heart failure can be difficult and requires experience, skill and access to leading-edge tools possessed by the specialists at the Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program.
Precise diagnosis is crucial, because the treatments for systolic or diastolic heart failure can be quite different, especially when mechanical assist devices may be needed.
Diastolic Heart Failure Symptoms
Chronic diastolic heart failure comes on slowly with age and is the most common form. Acute diastolic heart failure comes on suddenly, often with sudden difficulty breathing and fatigue.
The outward symptoms of diastolic heart failure and systolic heart failure are the same. Your Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program providers will be able to make an accurate diagnosis. Symptoms can include:
- Brain fog – difficulty concentrating or staying alert
- Fluid collection in the abdomen
- Heart palpitations
- Nausea and lack of appetite
- Persistent cough, wheezing
- Reduced exercise tolerance
- Shortness of breath either while lying down or active
- Swelling in the legs and ankles, possibly with sudden weight gain
Diastolic Heart Failure Treatment
We work with you to develop a customized treatment plan that fits your condition and goals.
Every case of diastolic heart failure is unique and complex. The specialists at the Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program have the expertise ant leading-edge treatments to relieve symptoms and slow the disease’s progress.
Diastolic heart failure treatment at the Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program includes lifestyle and dietary changes, medication to control blood pressure and heart rate, and diuretics to reduce fluid retention.
Patients with diastolic heart failure often have coronary artery disease as well, and our cardiologists may recommend surgery or minimally invasive procedures to remove built-up plaque in the blood vessels.
Our full-time nurse navigator meets with patients to provide details of their condition, answer any questions and review dietary adjustments, physical therapy and other changes to slow the progress of diastolic heart failure.
The nurse navigator will arrange for home health services, acute rehabilitation services and other assistance for patients so they can be successful managing their disease at home and reduce the need for hospital stays.
The Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program’s full-time social worker helps patients with insurance, housing and other needs. Heart failure workshops are designed to provide tools, resources and a more in-depth education on how to live fully with heart failure.
Hypertension medications can include beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). Medication may be used to reduce congestion in the lungs.