DOI: 10.1093/ehjci/jead196 ISSN: 2047-2404

Phenotyping heart failure by echocardiography: imaging of ventricular function and haemodynamics at rest and exercise

Otto A Smiseth, Erwan Donal, Espen Boe, Jong-Won Ha, Joao F Fernandes, Pablo Lamata
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • General Medicine


Traditionally, congestive heart failure (HF) was phenotyped by echocardiography or other imaging techniques according to left ventricular (LV) ejection fraction (LVEF). The more recent echocardiographic modality speckle tracking strain is complementary to LVEF, as it is more sensitive to diagnose mild systolic dysfunction. Furthermore, when LV systolic dysfunction is associated with a small, hypertrophic ventricle, EF is often normal or supernormal, whereas LV global longitudinal strain can reveal reduced contractility. In addition, segmental strain patterns may be used to identify specific cardiomyopathies, which in some cases can be treated with patient-specific medicine. In HF with preserved EF (HFpEF), a diagnostic hallmark is elevated LV filling pressure, which can be diagnosed with good accuracy by applying a set of echocardiographic parameters. Patients with HFpEF often have normal filling pressure at rest, and a non-invasive or invasive diastolic stress test may be used to identify abnormal elevation of filling pressure during exercise. The novel parameter LV work index, which incorporates afterload, is a promising tool for quantification of LV contractile function and efficiency. Another novel modality is shear wave imaging for diagnosing stiff ventricles, but clinical utility remains to be determined. In conclusion, echocardiographic imaging of cardiac function should include LV strain as a supplementary method to LVEF. Echocardiographic parameters can identify elevated LV filling pressure with good accuracy and may be applied in the diagnostic workup of patients suspected of HFpEF.

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