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What does abnormal left ventricular relaxation mean?

What does “abnormal left ventricular relaxation (grade 1 diastolic dysfunction)” mean? 

submitted by Sonya from Statesboro, Georgia on 2/4/2013


by Texas Heart Institute cardiologist, Michael J. Mihalick, MD  

Michael J. Mihalick, MDDear Sonya, Diastolic dysfunction is an abnormality in the relaxation phase of the heart beat during which the heart is filling with blood in preparation for the next ejection. Based on findings measured by the echocardiogram, there are 3 grades: Grade 1 (mild), Grade 2 (moderate) , and Grade 3 (severe). As we age, findings compatible with grade 1 are commonly observed. If there is no progression, Grade 1 is compatible with a normal life span and is usually reversible. Grades 2 and 3 can regress, but are probably less likely to revert to normal. In my experience, Grade 1 diastolic dysfunction is most commonly seen in patients with hypertension (high blood pressure). Sometimes individuals present with labile blood pressures that are frequently normal. If the echocardiogram shows mild wall thickening and mild diastolic dysfunction, the average blood pressure elevation can be assumed to be high enough to warrant drug therapy. Possible exceptions to this rule are highly trained individuals such as weight lifters, football players, and other professional athletes. Sometimes the only way to tell if the changes in these individuals are related to a primary medical cause such as hypertension or heart disease is to have them stop training for at least 3 months to see if the echocardiographic changes regress. As far as you are concerned, discussing these findings with your cardiologist is the best way to determine what they mean in your specific case.  

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Updated February 2013
Texas Heart Institute Heart Information Center
Through this community outreach program, staff members of the Texas Heart Institute (THI) provide educational information related to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiovascular disease. It is not the intention of THI to provide specific medical advice, but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health and their diagnosed disorders. Specific medical advice will not be provided and THI urges you to visit a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your questions.
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