Posts Tagged ‘diastolic heart failure’

Heart failure has been classified in many ways, with prevailing levels of our knowledge and ignorance. It is based on a variety of factors like rapidity of onset, etiology, chambers involved, hemodynamics, etc. 

  • Forward vs backward failure
  • Acute vs chronic failure
  • RV/LV or Biventicular failure 
  • Systolic vs diastolic heart failure
  • High output vs low out failure
  • Ischemic vs non-ischemic failure 
  • Reversible vs Refractory HF 

None of them have really helped at the bedside though it helped us understand the condition. Now, in the last decade, we have crash-landed on our favorite obsession to classify HF ie based on Ejection fraction. We believe we have found an exciting new classification. (HFrEF/HFpEF/HFmrEF).We embraced it, even after recognizing EF as a battered LV functional parameter due to its high load-dependence with a dubious reproducibility.  

If we rely too much on echo, there can be a few more classifications for HF 

  1. HF failure with preserved diastolic function(25% of all DCMs with HFrEF )
  2. HF with preserved mitral valve function
  3. HF with preserved Global longitudinal strain(Still normal EF%)
  4. HF with preserved RV function
  5. HF with preserved Torsion and Twist.
  6. Finally, HF with normal Heart (Anemia/CKD etc)  In anemia heart never fails in true sense. In fact, it works at peak capacity.(More of a Success than failure). Similarly isn’t odd to put primary CKD/CRF in the CHF basket.

Probably the most important and practical classification  could be

  1. Primary vs secondary HF (Primary means all muscle diseases under MOGES system ) 
  2. Valvular vs non-valvular failure (Surgically correctable MVR/DVR/Mitral valve repair)
  3. Revascularisable  or Non-revascularisable HF (STICH study responders)
  4. ICD/CRT eligible HF vs Non-eligible HF ( Rule out DANISH study non-responders)
  5. Refractory failure -Novel drugs/ Assist device/TAH/ Transplant suited 

Final message

 Dr Thomas Lewis said over 100 years ago, the essence of the practice of cardiology is to recognize HF early. Looking back at the literature, there will be no dearth of classification for HF. It will come and go according to academic and Imaging whims. Of course, that may aid in ruling out primary cardiac conditions. But, we must always emphasize to the next-generation that HF is often due to systemic*(reversible too) conditions in substantial numbers. Here the heart is just a bystander watching helplessly, trying to adapt to a remote systemic comorbid problem. Such hearts don’t require cowboy aggression but gentle care by concerned physicians.(One study reveals weight reduction and systematic exercise program adds more life to HF than drugs and devices. Will link the reference/ or try google)

*Eg: Anemia is the commonest cause of HFpEF on a global scale. .CKD, undiagnosed autoimmune disorders, malignancy, are other classical examples. Let us be first a physician then a cardiologist, that will ensure our we don’t miss important treatable conditions with our short-sighted definition of heart failure based on EF%.


1.Y. Juilliere, J.N. Trochu, P. de Groote, et al.Heart failure with preserved systolic function: a diagnostic algorithm for a pragmatic definition  Arch Mal Coeur Vaiss, 99 (2006), pp. 279-286  View Record in ScopusGoogle Scholar

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It is  over a century old dictum , that  edema legs and elevated JVP is the hallmark of cardiac failure.In fact , these two  constitute  major criteria of Framingham  cardiac failure score.When these criterias were formulated the concept of diastolic heart failure was not in vogue. So we  do not know whether the same would apply for diastolic heart failure also.

In all probability these  conventional criteria may not apply to diastolic heart failure  .

But why not ?

We know diastolic heart failure  of the left ventricle  is less likely raise the  systemic  venous pressure  to cause the edema and raised JVP. But still ,  isolated LV diastolic dysfunction can increase the PCWP and PAP and RVP . Remember diastolic  septal dysfunction , may compromise RV relaxation also.(Reverend Bernheim like  effect)

We should  also realise , raised  venous pressure is not the only mechanism for edema legs.

Diastolic dysfunction can trigger  ACE genes  .IT can get activated and hence renal conservation of sodium.This neurohormonal activation can be dominant  mechanism of edema in few. This  prevails over  the hydrostatic forces. And  hence edema can result in isolated diastolic dysfunction.

What about RV diastolic dysfunction as a cause for right sided failure ?

This is a poorly  understood entity.Logic suggests  it may have clinical significance. Since  morphologically and developmentally LV  and RV share a common  sheet of muscle  , LV diastolic dysfunction can have it’s impact t on the RV as well.

Final message

Edema legs and raised JVP is a hall-mark of  isolated  systolic heart failure or combined systolic and diastolic failure   .It is not rare to find an occasional patient isolated diastolic dysfunction*  to present  symptoms of  systemic congestion .

*Of course ,  in this era of hi tech cardiology practice  it may be  inappropriate  to  depend on these  primitive clincal criterias  to diagnose CHF . (These  manifest very late in the course of CHF!)

Read also

Why  some patients with cardiac failure never develop edema ?

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The long standing controversy about diastolic heart failure is settled !

The perception that diastolic heart failure ( Now renamed as heart failure with preserved EF ) is less dangerous than systolic HF has been exposed by this land mark study by Owan TE, in 2006 (nejm) But unfortunately this information is not yet fully disseminated among the physician community. Hence this post, with due acknowledgment to NEJM & Owan et all.

Experts from the article

“The nosology of heart failure has been the
subject of much current debate, and some extreme
positions have been taken. The observation
that 22 to 29 percent of patients with diastolic
heart failure die within one year of hospital
discharge, and 65 percent die within five years,
is a reminder that we are facing a lethal condition,
regardless of its name. Owan et al. also
show that, in recent years, there has been little
improvement in survival rate among patients with
diastolic heart failure, in contrast to the improvement
in survival rate over time among patients
with systolic heart failure”

Have a look at the survival curve below, almost similar , surprise surprise ! DHF survival is not only worse ( in many ), than systolic CHF and further they respond poorly to treatment, compared to conventional systolic CHF .

Click below for the link to full text article

Short abstract :

Trends in prevalence and outcome of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.

Cardiorenal Research Laboratory, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minn 55905, USA.

BACKGROUND: The prevalence of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction may be changing as a result of changes in population demographics and in the prevalence and treatment of risk factors for heart failure. Changes in the prevalence of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction may contribute to changes in the natural history of heart failure. We performed a study to define secular trends in the prevalence of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction among patients at a single institution over a 15-year period. METHODS: We studied all consecutive patients hospitalized with decompensated heart failure at Mayo Clinic Hospitals in Olmsted County, Minnesota, from 1987 through 2001. We classified patients as having either preserved or reduced ejection fraction. The patients were also classified as community patients (Olmsted County residents) or referral patients. Secular trends in the type of heart failure, associated cardiovascular disease, and survival were defined. RESULTS: A total of 6076 patients with heart failure were discharged over the 15-year period; data on ejection fraction were available for 4596 of these patients (76 percent). Of these, 53 percent had a reduced ejection fraction and 47 percent had a preserved ejection fraction. The proportion of patients with the diagnosis of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction increased over time and was significantly higher among community patients than among referral patients (55 percent vs. 45 percent). The prevalence rates of hypertension, atrial fibrillation, and diabetes among patients with heart failure increased significantly over time. Survival was slightly better among patients with preserved ejection fraction (adjusted hazard ratio for death, 0.96; P=0.01). Survival improved over time for those with reduced ejection fraction but not for those with preserved ejection fraction. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction increased over a 15-year period, while the rate of death from this disorder remained unchanged. These trends underscore the importance of this growing public health problem. Copyright 2006 Massachusetts Medical Society.

Other interesting article

Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction: dangerous, elusive, and difficult.

Eur Heart J. 2008 Feb;29(3):339-47. Nielsen OW, Køber L, Torp-Pedersen C.

BMJ editorail 2009


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