Diastolic heart failure is a stiff left heart ventricle. When your left heart ventricle is stiff, it doesn’t relax properly between heartbeats. Diastolic heart failure can lead to decreased blood flow and other complications. With the right treatment, you can effectively manage the symptoms of diastolic heart failure.
Diastolic heart failure, also known as heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), is a condition in which your heart’s main pumping chamber (left ventricle) becomes stiff and unable to fill properly.
Diastolic heart failure is one of two kinds of left-sided heart failure. The other type is systolic heart failure which reduces the pumping strength of your left ventricle.
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Your heart has four chambers: two chambers on the top (right atrium and left atrium) and two chambers on the bottom (right ventricle and left ventricle). The right ventricle pumps blood only to your lungs. The left ventricle pumps blood to the rest of your body. The left ventricle is the thickest chamber in your heart.
Diastolic and systolic are the two numbers on a blood pressure reading. Every time your heart squeezes, it pumps out blood to the network of blood vessels known as the circulatory system. The force or pressure of that squeeze is called systolic blood pressure. When your heart rests between beats, the pressure in the arteries is the diastolic blood pressure. This is why your blood pressure has two numbers:
When the left side of your heart stiffens, your heart:
As a result, you experience symptoms of heart failure. You might feel short of breath or fatigued (tired, no matter how much you rest). Your breathing may get worse at night when you try to lay flat. You may also notice swelling in your belly or legs (edema). These symptoms might get worse over time.
Many conditions can contribute to diastolic heart failure. These include:
Diastolic heart failure has many of the same symptoms as other types of heart failure. If you have diastolic heart failure, you may experience:
Your healthcare provider asks you about your symptoms and family health history. Your provider also conducts a physical exam and listens to your heart with a stethoscope.
You may have specific tests to diagnose heart failure, such as:
Your healthcare provider may advise you to make specific lifestyle changes. Healthy habits can improve your cardiovascular health and help your heart work more efficiently. You may feel better if you:
Your treatment plan may also include prescription medications. It’s important to take the medication exactly as directed.
Many people with HFpEF take medications for other heart conditions. Your provider might prescribe medications specifically for diastolic heart failure that include:
There is no cure for diastolic heart failure. Proper treatment can help you manage symptoms and improve your heart’s function.
The best way to reduce your risk of developing diastolic heart failure is to adopt healthy habits. These habits can improve your overall heart health. They decrease your risk of heart problems.
You can reduce your risk of diastolic heart failure by:
With treatment, you can live well with diastolic heart failure. It’s important to follow your healthcare provider’s treatment plan. Diastolic heart failure doesn’t go away, but you can manage the symptoms.
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Diastolic heart failure is one of the two types of left-sided heart failure. HFPEF is the same condition. Your risk of diastolic heart failure increases as you get older. You may also have a higher risk if you have underlying conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Diastolic heart failure doesn’t have a cure, but you can manage the symptoms by changing your lifestyle or taking heart medications. Many people live a full and active life with diastolic heart failure.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/08/2022.
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