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Diastolic Heart Failure

Diastolic heart failure occurs when the left chamber of the heart becomes too stiff and is unable to relax. As a result, the heart cannot properly fill with blood when it is at rest. This condition affects the heart's ability to effectively pump oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. Approximately half of patients with heart failure experience diastolic heart failure. Although heart failure can be fatal, early diagnosis and management of the condition can help prevent further progression.

  • Symptoms

    • Coughing or wheezing
    • Fatigue
    • Fluid retention
    • Heart palpitations
    • Quick or irregular pulse
    • Shortness of breath with activity or at rest
    • Weight gain
  • Prevention

    Some risk factors for heart failure cannot be changed. However, making the following healthy lifestyle changes could reduce your risk for heart disease:

    • Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean sources of protein.
    • Exercise regularly.
    • Find healthy ways to cope with stress.
    • Limit alcohol consumption.
    • Maintain a healthy weight.
    • Monitor and control your cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
    • Quit smoking.
  • Risk Factors

    • Age of 45+
    • Being overweight or obese
    • Diabetes
    • Heart conditions, such as coronary artery disease or high blood pressure
  • Diagnosis

    • Physical examination. Your healthcare provider will ask you about your medical history and symptoms. He or she may also ask about your lifestyle habits, such as physical activity levels, nutrition and whether you smoke.
    • Blood tests. Your provider may order blood tests to help diagnose heart failure. Along with providing a diagnosis, blood tests help your provider monitor the condition, identify heart disease risk and look for any side effects to medications.
    • Echocardiogram. This is a common test used to detect heart failure. An echocardiogram uses sound waves to generate pictures of the heart. These images will show your provider how effectively your heart pumps blood.
    • Other tests. Your provider may order one or more of the following tests to confirm a diagnosis: chest X-ray, electrocardiogram, exercise stress test, cardiac catheterization or MRI.
  • Treatment

    • Lifestyle changes. Implementing healthy lifestyle changes can help lower the strain on your heart. These may include smoking cessation, dietary changes, staying at a healthy weight and being physically active.
    • Medications. Your provider may prescribe medications including diuretics for fluid retention, beta-blockers to slow the heart rate and calcium-channel blockers to help with the stiffness of the ventricle muscle.
    • Surgical treatment. If conservative treatments do not help, you may need surgery to fix obstructed blood vessels. Speak with your provider about which procedure is best based on your individual circumstances.
  • Follow-up Care

    • You may have follow-up visits every three to six months to continue monitoring heart function.
    • You may need to watch for changes in heart rate, pulse and blood pressure.
    • Your physician may have you follow an exercise program and diet plan to keep at a healthy weight.