"The participants with diastolic heart failure were essentially the same as the systolic group in the domains that doctors have agreed characterize typical heart failure," said Kitzman. "We believe these results help establish this as a second type of heart failure."
Kitzman said the controversy about heart failure resulted because while systolic heart failure is easily diagnosed with an ultrasound test to measure the heart's squeezing ability, there is no single test to diagnose diastolic heart failure. In addition, the main symptoms of diastolic heart failure, shortness of breath and fatigue with exertion, can also be caused by a variety of other conditions such as heart artery or valve disease, lung disease, aging, or obesity.
"When patients have symptoms of heart failure and ultrasound shows a heart that contracts normally, doctors have doubted their own diagnostic abilities and have been reluctant to put these patients on heart failure treatment," said Kitzman.
There is no standard for diagnosing diastolic heart failure. For the research study, the diagnosis was made by ruling out the other medical conditions that could cause its symptoms.
The research was supported by the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health. Investigators at the Department of Health and Exercise Sciences at Wake Forest University helped conduct the research.
"This research is critically important for helping us characterize a condition that is common among older people," says Andre Premen, Ph.D., of NIA's Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology Program. "It provides clear evidence that isolated diastolic heart failure is a distinct syndrome and may need to be addressed as such. We look forward to moving toward clinical research to test whether treatments that have proven effective for systolic heart failure, or other ne
Contact: Karen Richardson
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center