Posts Tagged ‘edema legs in diastolic heart failure’

How common is edema legs in diastolic heart failure ?

  1. Can not occur.
  2. As common as systolic failure
  3. Can occur in significant number.
  4. Rare.

Answer : 4

Response  3  may be  correct as well .

When cardiac failure was originally defined by Framingham criteria many decades ago , the entity of diastolic heart failure was non existent .The classical  triad of edema legs, raised JVP, basal rales invariably meant systolic ,  congestive hart failure. We will , never ever know how many of the Framingham cohort had isolated diastolic  heart failure .


For edema to occur there need to be water and sodium retention .For  sodium and water to accumulate either of the two things should happen (Hypoprotienemia, Lymphatic dysfunction excluded)

  • Increased venous pressure
  • Reduced renal clearing of water and salt.

When both join together edema is classical and full blown.

In isolated LV diastolic  heart failure the raise in systemic venous pressure is less pronounced .So ,  edema legs is less conspicuous. but in any type of failure  the net cardiac index tend to decline at least marginally . Kidneys are the first organ to sense this , and the nephrons  goes for  a huddle and begin to retain sodium and water as if body is going to face severe water and salt scarcity .(It is a false alarm actually ! )

Neuro humoral mechanism is   “Alive and well”   in any heart failure whether it is  systolic diastolic , forward ,backward  etc. so  , edema  can indeed occur  in isolated diastolic heart failure

Please note ,  the classical edema  that occur in restrictive cardiomyopathy , constrictive  pericarditis  are due to severe  impediment  to right sided filling and  elevated the lower limb venous  pressure .

Other important determinants of edema legs.

  1. The baseline renal function.
  2. Intra vascular volume status.
  3. The associated  HT induced vascular  changes.
  4. Serum protein  levels.
  5. Venous tone.(A good venous pump   in conditioned  legs develop edema late )
  6. Integrity of lymphatic circulation.
  7. Subcutaneous fat  density and interstitial tissue resistance.

All can modify the local hydro static pressure .These factors operate in various quantum’s  and for this  reason only selcted few develop  significant  edema in cardiac failure .

Also  read  . Why some patients  with cardiac failure never develops edema legs ?

* Please note , the terms diastolic dysfunction and failure can not be used interchangeably. Dysfunction is often a  echo parameter while   failure is its  clinical counterpart .Both can be dissociated in time ,   failure may never follow dysfunction .Most episodes of diastolic dysfunction is transitory   in nature.

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