More than half of patients with heart failure have a preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). The prevalence of HFpEF has been increasing worldwide and is expected to increase further, making it an important health-care problem. The diagnosis of HFpEF is straightforward in the presence of obvious objective signs of congestion; however, it is challenging in patients presenting with a low degree of congestion because abnormal elevation in intracardiac pressures may occur only during physiological stress conditions, such as during exercise. On the basis of this hemodynamic background, current consensus guidelines have emphasized the importance of exercise stress testing to reveal abnormalities during exercise, and exercise stress echocardiography (i.e., diastolic stress echocardiography) may be used as an initial diagnostic approach to HFpEF owing to its noninvasive nature and wide availability. However, evidence supporting the use of this method remains limited and many knowledge gaps exist with respect to diastolic stress echocardiography. This review summarizes the current understanding of the use of diastolic stress echocardiography in the diagnostic evaluation of HFpEF and discusses its strengths and limitations to encourage future studies on this subject.
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