This post will try to explain the condition called Diastolic Dysfunction in layman’s term.
First, we have to know the two parts to the pumping action of the heart. You can use the photo below as reference.
1. Diastole – first part, when blood collects in the lower heart chambers (left & right ventricles)
2. Systole – second part happens once the ventricles contract and blood is pushed from the right ventricle to the pulmonary artery and from the left ventricle into the aortic valves.
Diastolic Dysfunction refers to when diastole part is not functioning properly. The heart stiffens and ventricles do not relax so they cannot fill with blood and causes blood to “dam up” in other parts of the body.
Pressure in the ventricles then increases as blood from the next heartbeat tries to enter. This leads to extra pressure and fluid building up in the vessels of the lungs (referred to as pulmonary congestion) or in the vessels that lead back to the heart (referred to as systemic congestion).
Pulmonary congestion – causes fluid to leak from these vessels into the lung alveoli, causing pulmonary edema. This condition clogs oxygenation of blood in the lungs, resulting in shortness of breath and in worst case scenario even death if the condition is not discovered and treated actively.
The systemic congestion – has detrimental effects on other organs in the body such as the kidney and liver, as a result of poor organ perfusion. Swelling and congestion may also occur in the legs and within the abdomen.
Causes and Symptoms:
The major causes of Diastolic Dysfunction –
Obesity and unhealthy lifestyle
High blood pressure
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (the walls of the heart become thick and stiff)
Aortic stenosis (narrowing in one of the heart valves)
Coronary artery disease
Restrictive cardiomyopathy (scars or deposits that make the heart muscle stiff)
Symptoms can be from nothing to shortness of breath or labored breathing, unusual swelling of the legs/feet, and fast or irregular heart beat.
If you manifest the above symptoms and a family history of heart disease, consult a trusted Cardiologist and the following tests will help diagnose if you have Diastolic Dysfunction.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
God bless your heart,
Medical references and for Further reading: