Heart failure is one of the most common causes of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, and hypertension is the most common cause of cardiac failure. Recent studies have shown that isolated diastolic dysfunction very often accompanies hypertensive heart disease. Ventricular diastolic function may be divided into an active relaxation phase and a passive compliance period. These two components have been investigated invasively, and they remain the gold standards for the study of diastolic function. However, in the routine clinical setting, echocardiographic and Doppler techniques are most useful for evaluating ventricular filling. Thus, analysis of E and A waves of mitral flow have provided important and useful information. Unfortunately, these indices depend on too many factors. Newer indices obtained from ventricular time intervals, tissue Doppler imaging, and color M-mode echocardiography have enhanced the means to assess diastolic function. In addition, new methods including MRI and cine CT have also provided better understanding of left ventricular filling in hypertension. Using these techniques, diastolic dysfunction has been found to be common in patients with hypertension, even before left ventricular hypertrophy is demonstrable and before hypertension in young, normotensive male offspring of hypertensive parents has developed. Furthermore, it has been made clear recently that myocardial ischemia and fibrosis are two important factors associated with diastolic dysfunction in hypertension.
Hypertension Research Laboratories, Division of Research, Ochsner Clinic Foundation, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.
Correspondence to Michel Slama, MD, Division of Research, Ochsner Clinic Foundation, 1520 Jefferson Highway, New Orleans, LA 70121, USA; e-mail: Mslama@ochsner.org