Diastolic dysfunction in exercise and its role for exercise capacity

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Abstract

Diastolic dysfunction is frequent in elderly subjects and in patients with left ventricular hypertrophy, vascular disease and diabetes mellitus. Patients with diastolic dysfunction demonstrate a reduced exercise capacity and might suffer from congestive heart failure (CHF). Presence of symptoms of CHF in the setting of a normal systolic function is referred to as heart failure with normal ejection fraction (HFNEF) or, if evidence of an impaired diastolic function is observed, as diastolic heart failure (DHF). Reduced exercise capacity in diastolic dysfunction results from a number of pathophysiological alterations such as slowed myocardial relaxation, reduced myocardial distensibility, elevated filling pressures, and reduced ventricular suction forces. These alterations limit the increase of ventricular diastolic filling and cardiac output during exercise and lead to pulmonary congestion. In healthy subjects, exercise training can enhance diastolic function and exercise capacity and prevent deterioration of diastolic function in the course of aging. In patients with diastolic dysfunction, exercise capacity can be enhanced by exercise training and pharmacological treatment, whereas improvement of diastolic function can only be observed in few patients.

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