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Diastolic heart failure more prevalent than once believed

There are several reasons for heart failure, but one common cause is when the left ventricle no longer has the ability to fill with blood during the relaxation phase, also known as the diastolic phase. At that point, there is little blood in the heart, which means blood can't be pumped to the body in the right increments.

Over time, the left ventricle muscle could become thickened or stiff. If that happens, diastolic heart failure results. Symptoms of this include fluid congestion in the lungs and heart failure symptoms as blood backs up into the left atrium.

Diastolic heart failure has been recognized in as many as 50 percent of those over the age of 70. Around 75 percent of those who receive a diagnosis are female. Unlike some other types of heart failure, diastolic heart failure is likely to relapse if it occurs once.

The difficulty with this condition is that it's hard to diagnose. Symptoms range in severity, and by the time they appear, they're too significant to ignore. For instance, weakness, swollen ankles and dizziness may suggest heart failure. Confusion and nausea may be signs as well. These symptoms also correlate with other diseases and illnesses, making it difficult to be sure of the cause.

To get an accurate diagnosis, patients should receive blood tests, an X-ray of the chest, an electrocardiogram, stress tests or other tests to identify problems with the heart.

Although it's hard to recognize this disease, the right tests can help. If your doctor does not order them, it could be a sign of negligence and one you can file a malpractice lawsuit for.

Source: Bel Marra Health, "Diastolic heart failure: Causes, symptoms, treatment, and life expectancy," Feb. 16, 2018

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