Features April 2009 Issue

Prevent Diastolic Dysfunction and Preserve Exercise Capacity

Treating hypertension is one of the best ways to help avoid diastolic problems that can lead to heart failure.

A heart patient who complains of fatigue after climbing the stairs might get on a treadmill in the doctor’s office for a stress test only to find out that the problem is not about how well his heart is pumping blood throughout his body. Instead, the physician might want to look at the heart’s diastolic function—the relaxation of the heart in between beats when blood fills the ventricles. A study in the Jan. 21 Journal of the American Medical Association found that diastolic dysfunction is directly related to reduced exercise capacity. Researchers suggested that, based on their study, patients who have seemingly unexplainable exercise intolerance should have their diastolic function evaluated.

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