Is heart failure with preserved ejection fraction a ‘dementia’ of the heart?

Giacomo Tini*, Antonio Cannatà, Marco Canepa, Pier Giorgio Masci, Matteo Pardini, Mauro Giacca, Gianfranco Sinagra, Niccolò Marchionni, Federica Del Monte, James E. Udelson, Iacopo Olivotto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) remains an elusive entity, due to its heterogeneous clinical profile and an arbitrarily defined nosology. Several pathophysiological mechanisms recognized as central for the development of HFpEF appear to be in common with the process of physiological aging of the heart. Both conditions are characterized by progressive impairment in cardiac function, accompanied by left ventricular hypertrophy, diastolic dysfunction, sarcomeric, and metabolic abnormalities. The neurological paradigm of dementia—intended as a progressive, multifactorial organ damage with decline of functional reserve, eventually leading to irreversible dysfunction—is well suited to represent HFpEF. In such perspective, certain phenotypes of HFpEF may be viewed as a maladaptive response to environmental modifiers, causing premature and pathological aging of the heart. We here propose that the ‘HFpEF syndrome’ may reflect the interplay of adverse structural remodelling and erosion of functional reserve, mirroring the processes leading to dementia in the brain. The resulting conceptual framework may help advance our understanding of HFpEF and unravel potential therapeutical targets.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHeart Failure Reviews
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Calcium handling
  • Cardiac aging
  • Dementia
  • HFpEF
  • Left ventricular hypertrophy
  • Myocardial fibrosis


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