Aims: The prevalence of left ventricular diastolic abnormalities in the general population is largely unclear. Thus, the aim of this study was, firstly, to identify abnormal diastolic function by echocardiography in an age-stratified population-based European sample (MONICA Augsburg, n=1274, 25 to 75 years, mean 51+/-14) and, secondly, to analyse clinical and anthropometric parameters associated with diastolic abnormalities.
Methods and results: The overall prevalence of diastolic abnormalities, as defined by the European Study Group on Diastolic Heart Failure (i.e. age dependent isovolumic relaxation time (92-105 ms) and early (E-wave) and late (A-wave) left ventricular filling (E/A-ratio, 1-0.5)) was 11.1%. When only subjects treated with diuretics or with left atrial enlargement were considered (suggesting diastolic dysfunction) the prevalence was 3.1%. The prevalence of diastolic abnormalities varied according to age: from 2.8% in individuals aged 25-35 years to 15.8% among those older than 65 years (P<0.01). Significantly higher rates of diastolic abnormalities were observed in men as compared to women (13.8% vs 8.6%, P<0.01). Independent predictors of diastolic abnormalities were arterial hypertension, evidence of left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy, and coronary artery disease. Interestingly, in the absence of these predisposing conditions, diastolic abnormalities (4.3%) or diastolic dysfunction (1.1%) were rare, even in subjects older than 50 years of age (4.6%) and (1.2%), respectively. In addition to these factors, diastolic dysfunction was related to high body mass index, high body fat mass, and diabetes mellitus.
Conclusion: The prevalences of diastolic abnormalities and diastolic dysfunction are higher than that of systolic dysfunction and are increased (despite age-dependent diagnostic criteria) in the elderly. However, in the absence of risk factors for diastolic abnormalities or diastolic dysfunction, namely LV hypertrophy, arterial hypertension, coronary artery disease, obesity and diabetes the condition is rare even in elderly subjects. These data allow speculation on whether diastolic heart failure may be prevented by improved implementation of measures directed against predisposing conditions.