We all know that our heart beats continuously to pump blood all over the body. This pumping takes just about a second to complete in two steps. The blood is collected in the right and left atria and a signal is sent out by the sinoatrial (SA) node. This electric signal makes the atria contract and push the blood through the tricuspid and mitral valves. The blood now enters the right and left ventricles, and the heart now relaxes. This relaxing phase is known as diastole, thus completing the first step of the pumping action of the human heart. When the SA node sends an electric signal to the ventricles full of blood, they contract. This contraction of ventricles is called the systole. The back-flow of blood is prevented by the tricuspid and mitral valve shutting close. The pulmonary and aortic valves are opened, and the blood is pushed through the right ventricle into the lungs. When the oxygen-rich blood flows into the left ventricle, it is pumped to the circulatory system of the body. When the heart fails to relax or suffers from impaired relaxation action, it leads to an abnormal pumping cycle. This is called the diastolic dysfunction. The ventricle fails to relax normally, thus the pressure increases, causing problems in the next heartbeat.

  • Chronic high blood pressure
  • Aortic stenosis
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Aging
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Severe systolic dysfunction
  • Scarred heart muscles
  • Diabetes, causing stiffening of heart muscles due to glycosylation
  • Congestive heart failure

Most of the cases of this condition show that there are no prominent symptoms, and they may take many years to develop. Thus, it is very important to make an early diagnosis of the condition. It has been seen that those who receive early medical care have better prognosis. The symptoms may include:
  • Fatigue
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tachycardia
  • Distention of jugular vein
  • Edema
  • Enlarged liver

The diastolic dysfunction is a heart disease or condition that is divided into various grades according to the symptoms exhibited. These grades are as follows:
  • Grade 1:
    Grade 1 is a mild condition that can also be termed as the early stage of diastolic dysfunction. There are no clinical signs or symptoms in many patients.
  • Grade 2:
    This is also known as the pseudonormal filling dynamics. This is a moderate condition that shows elevated left atrial filling pressures. The symptoms are quite similar to a cardiac failure. There may be left atrial enlargement due to elevated pressure in the left heart.
  • Grade 3 and 4:
    These are the most severe forms of this condition, where the patient may show advanced cardiac failure symptoms. The prognosis for grade 3 and 4 is generally very poor. The left atrial enlargement is observed and the systolic and diastolic dysfunction is indicated by the reduction in the left ventricular ejection fraction.

Diastolic dysfunction is a chronic condition and can be handled by the patient without any medical treatment. The treatment is generally aimed at treating a cause, like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc., that leads to a stiff ventricle. The treatment is still at a trial-and-error stage. Calcium channel blocker drugs may be used to reduce the stiffness in ventricles. Diuretics are also used in case of pulmonary edema.

This was some information related to diastolic dysfunction, a condition affecting cardiac health. This condition mostly affects the elderly. For better prognosis, it is important that it is diagnosed early and treated in time.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.