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Causes of Diastolic Heart Failure


The most common cause of diastolic heart failure is the natural effects of aging on the heart. As you age, your heart muscle tends to stiffen, which can prevent your heart from filling with blood properly, leading to diastolic heart failure. The table below outlines the other causes of diastolic heart failure.

Causes of diastolic heart failure


What is it?

How it causes heart failure

Risk factors

Coronary artery disease (CAD) Blockage of the arteries that supply blood to the heart Low blood flow to the heart muscle (ischemia) can prevent the heart from relaxing normally.
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Family history of CAD
  • Male
  • Older age
Hypertension High blood pressure Heart muscle can thicken the wall of the heart (hypertrophy) in an effort to pump against high blood pressure; thickened heart muscle limits the heart’s ability to relax and fill with blood.
  • Inherited forms of hypertension
  • High salt intake
  • Excess alcohol intake
  • Smoking
  • Other risk factors for hypertension
Aortic stenosis Opening of the aortic valve is narrowed The left ventricle thickens, limiting its ability to fill.
  • History of rheumatic fever
  • Older age
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy Inherited abnormality of heart muscle resulting in very thick walls of the left ventricle Thick heart muscle prevents blood from filling the left ventricle.
  • Genetic predisposition
Pericardial disease Abnormality of the sac that surrounds the heart (pericardium) Fluid in the pericardial space (pericardial tamponade) or a thickened pericardium (pericardial constriction) can limit the heart’s ability to fill.
  • Previous radiation exposure to the chest
  • Tuberculosis
  • Viral infection
  • Prior cardiac surgery


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
Last Revised August 5, 2010

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