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Introduction

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ESSENTIALS OF DIAGNOSIS

  • Symptoms and signs of heart failure with preserved left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF > 50%).

  • Presence of an underlying cause of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (eg, comorbidities such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease; or underlying valvular heart disease, restrictive cardiomyopathy, or specific myocardial diseases such as amyloidosis).

  • Objective evidence of elevated left ventricular filling pressure (at rest or with exercise) on echocardiography or cardiac catheterization.

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General Considerations

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Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) is an increasingly common, debilitating syndrome of the elderly, and one that carries a high rate of morbidity and mortality. HFpEF accounts for > 50% of all hospitalizations for heart failure. Although an individual patient-level meta-analysis found that patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) have a worse prognosis compared to HFpEF, two earlier large epidemiologic studies found that patients with HFpEF have a mortality rate that is nearly identical to HFrEF. Regardless of underlying ejection fraction, survival for all heart failure (HF) patients is poor, especially after HF hospitalization.

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HFpEF is the preferred term for patients with a normal ejection fraction who have the syndrome of HF, because HFpEF highlights the fact that HF is a syndrome and not a distinct clinical or pathophysiologic entity. Many clinicians and investigators have used the term “diastolic heart failure” for HFpEF in the past. However, this term is not ideal for two main reasons. First, there is ample evidence that patients with HFpEF have abnormalities in longitudinal systolic function (as defined by tissue Doppler imaging and speckle-tracking echocardiography) despite a normal ejection fraction, and many patients with HFrEF have abnormal diastolic function. Second, in the clinical setting, patients with HF are currently classified into three general categories: low ejection fraction (< 40%), preserved ejection fraction (> 50%), and a “gray zone” of ejection fraction (40–50%). By calling HFpEF “diastolic HF,” clinicians may not consider the entire differential diagnosis of HFpEF (of which pure diastolic dysfunction is only one cause). HFpEF has also previously been called “HF with preserved systolic function” or “HF with normal systolic function.” As stated earlier, it is now clear that many patients with HFpEF have abnormalities in systolic function; therefore, HFpEF is a better term.

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Finally, HFpEF has the advantage of being an easy mnemonic for patients to remember. HFpEF sounds like “HUFF-PUFF,” which helps patients understand this syndrome, in which dyspnea, fatigue, and exercise intolerance are three of the most common symptoms.

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Meta-Analysis Global Group in Chronic Heart Failure (MAGGIC). The survival of patients with heart failure with preserved or reduced left ventricular ejection fraction: an individual patient data meta-analysis. Eur Heart J. 2012;33(14):1750–1757.
[PubMed: 21821849]  
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Oktay  AA,  et al. The emerging epidemic of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. Curr Heart Fail Rep. 2013;10(4):401–410.
[PubMed: 24078836]  
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Shah  SJ,  et al. Baseline characteristics ...

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