OBJECTIVES:This study sought to identify whether impaired global longitudinal strain (GLS), diastolic dysfunction (DD), or left atrial enlargement (LAE) should be added to stage B heart failure (SBHF) criteria in asymptomatic patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. BACKGROUND:SBHF is a precursor to clinical heart failure (HF), and its recognition justifies initiation of cardioprotective therapy. However, original definitions of SBHF were based on LV hypertrophy and impaired ejection fraction. METHODS:Patients with asymptomatic type 2 diabetes mellitus ≥65 years of age (age 71 ± 4 years; 55% men) with preserved ejection fraction and no ischemic heart disease were recruited from a community-based population. All underwent a standard clinical evaluation, and a comprehensive echocardiogram, including assessment of left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), LAE, DD (abnormal E/e'), and GLS (<16%). Over a median follow-up of 1.5 years (range 0.5 to 3), 20 patients were lost to follow-up, and 290 individuals were entered into the final analyses. RESULTS:In this asymptomatic group, LV dysfunction was identified in 30 (10%) by DD, 68 (23%) by LVH, 102 (35%) by LAE, and 68 (23%) by impaired GLS. New-onset HF developed in 45 patients and 4 died, giving an event rate of 112/1,000 person-years. Survival free of the composite endpoint (HF and death) was about 1.5-fold higher in patients without a normal, compared with an abnormal echocardiogram. LVH, LAE, and GLS <16% were associated with increased risk of the composite endpoint, independent of ARIC risk score and glycosylated hemoglobin, but abnormal E/e' was not. The addition of left atrial volume and GLS provided incremental value to the current standard of clinical risk (ARIC score) and LVH. In a competing-risks regression analysis, LVH (hazard ratio: 2.90; p < 0.001) and GLS <16% (hazard ratio: 2.26; p = 0.008), but not DD and LAE were associated with incident HF. CONCLUSIONS:Subclinical left ventricular systolic dysfunction is prevalent in asymptomatic elderly patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, and impaired GLS is independent and incremental to LVH in the prediction of incident HF.