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Circulation. 2001 Aug 14;104(7):779-82.

Heart failure with a normal ejection fraction: is measurement of diastolic function necessary to make the diagnosis of diastolic heart failure?

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  • 1Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, USA.



The diagnosis of diastolic heart failure is generally made in patients who have the signs and symptoms of heart failure and a normal left ventricular (LV) ejection fraction. Whether the diagnosis also requires an objective measurement of parameters that reflect the diastolic properties of the ventricle has not been established.


We hypothesized that the vast majority of patients with heart failure and a normal ejection fraction exhibit abnormal LV diastolic function. We tested this hypothesis by prospectively identifying 63 patients with a history of heart failure and an echocardiogram suggesting LV hypertrophy and a normal ejection fraction; we then assessed LV diastolic function during cardiac catheterization. All 63 patients had standard hemodynamic measurements; 47 underwent detailed micromanometer and echocardiographic-Doppler studies. The LV end-diastolic pressure was >16 mm Hg in 58 of the 63 patients; thus, 92% had elevated end-diastolic pressure (average, 24+/-8 mm Hg). The time constant of LV relaxation (average, 51+/-15 ms) was abnormal in 79% of the patients. The E/A ratio was abnormal in 48% of the patients. The E-wave deceleration time (average, 349+/-140 ms) was abnormal in 64% of the patients. One or more of the indexes of diastolic function were abnormal in every patient.


Objective measurement of LV diastolic function serves to confirm rather than establish the diagnosis of diastolic heart failure. The diagnosis of diastolic heart failure can be made without the measurement of parameters that reflect LV diastolic function.

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