Diastolic dysfunction may take many months or even years to cause symptoms and the slow disease progression means many individuals tolerate the illness without requiring any specific treatment.
In cases of conditions that predispose to diastolic dysfunction, the underlying illness should be treated. For example, high blood pressure and diabetes should be treated appropriately. Atrial fibrillation is another condition that requires prompt treatment, as the inadequate pumping of blood by the atrium into the ventricles can also lead to diastolic dysfunction. If the atrial fibrillation causes an increased heart rate, drugs may be administered to slow the heart rate down.
The role of specific agents in the treatment of diastolic dysfunction is not yet clear. Some studies suggest that calcium channel blockers may reduce ventricular stiffness in some cases. Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors may be effective at preventing ventricular remodelling and examples of theses agents include enalapril, captopril and ramipril.
The first-line approach to diastolic dysfunction is currently beta blocker therapy, which slows the heart rate and allows the ventricles time to fill with blood properly.
Treatment of symptoms
Diastolic dysfunction can eventually lead to pulmonary edema, a serious condition that requires prompt treatment. The treatment approach to pulmonary edema is focused on drugs that reduce the heart rate and diuretics to remove fluid from the body.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc