Aims: To investigate regional systolic function of the left ventricle, to test the hypothesis that "pure" diastolic dysfunction (impaired global diastolic filling, with a preserved ejection fraction > or = 50%) is associated with longitudinal systolic dysfunction.
Methods and results: One hundred thirty subjects (31 patients with asymptomatic diastolic dysfunction, 30 with diastolic heart failure, 30 with systolic heart failure; and 39 age-matched normal volunteers) were studied by conventional and tissue Doppler echocardiography. Global diastolic function was assessed using the flow propagation velocity, and by estimating left ventricular filling pressure from the ratio of transmitral E and mitral annular E(TDE) velocities (E/E(TDE)); and global systolic function by measurement of ejection fraction. Radial and longitudinal functions were assessed separately from posterior wall and mitral annular velocities. Global and radial systolic function were similar in patients with "pure" diastolic dysfunction and normal subjects, but patients with either asymptomatic diastolic dysfunction or diastolic heart failure had impaired longitudinal systolic function (mean velocities: 8.0+/-1.2 and 7.7+/-1.5 cm/s, respectively, versus 10.1+/-1.5 cm/s in controls; p<0.001). In subjects with normal ejection fraction, global diastolic function correlated with longitudinal systolic function (r=0.56 for flow propagation velocity, and r=-0.53 for E/E(TDE) ratio, both p<0.001), but not with global systolic function.
Conclusion: Worsening global diastolic dysfunction of the left ventricle is associated with a progressive decline in longitudinal systolic function. Diastolic heart failure as conventionally diagnosed is associated with regional, subendocardial systolic dysfunction that can be revealed by tissue Doppler of long-axis shortening. Diagnostic algorithms and definitions of heart failure need to be revised.