Management of diastolic heart failure--a practical review of pathophysiology and treatment trial data

Int J Clin Pract. 2005 Oct;59(10):1239-46. doi: 10.1111/j.1368-5031.2005.00642.x.


The lack of large randomised controlled trials to guide therapy in diastolic heart failure causes some difficulties for evidence-based medicine practising clinicians. Traditionally, treatments for systolic heart failure have been highjacked for diastolic heart failure without much proof of benefit. However, recent studies have began to provide some evidence base for our practice. Betablockers and angiotensin receptor antagonists have recently been shown to reduce hospitalisation in large randomised controlled trials. Diuretic based antihypertensive regimes have been shown to reduce heart failure by 50%. Left ventricular hypertrophy regression is likely to be a good surrogate endpoint for diastolic heart failure, although definitive proof for this is not yet available. Angiotensin receptor antagonists, ACEI, calcium channel blockers, diuretics and aldosterone blockers have all been shown to cause left ventricular hypertrophy regression. We recommend these drugs to achieve strict blood pressure control together with dietary and lifestyle modification for the treatment of diastolic heart failure. We emphasise the importance of rate control, as diastolic heart-failure patients tolerate tachycardia poorly. We further argue that the pathophysiology of diastolic heart failure is part of systolic heart failure and the two should not be thought of as separate entities. Therefore, our traditional practice of using systolic heart failure treatments for diastolic heart failure is theoretically sound and should not cause us undue anxiety.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Diastole
  • Diuretics / therapeutic use
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Heart Failure / diagnosis
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy*
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain / blood
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Biomarkers
  • Diuretics
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain