Recommendations concerning use of echocardiography in hypertension and general population research
Use of echocardiography to quantify left ventricular structure and function requires standardization of recording conditions and techniques, accurate machine calibration, and definition of requirements for measurable images. Measurement of left ventricular muscle mass should use M-mode, two-dimensional, or three-dimensional echocardiographic methods that have been anatomically validated to maximize accuracy and comparability of results among studies. Body size and sex influence ventricular muscle mass sufficiently to be taken into account for clinical and research purposes, while age and physical activity are of less certain importance. Echocardiographic studies have clarified the prevalence of left ventricular hypertrophy in hypertensive patients and the effect of blood pressure during normal activity on left ventricular muscle mass, and they have provided data suggesting that left ventricular hypertrophy is a major cardiac risk factor in hypertensive and general populations. Further research is needed to obtain definitive results in these areas, to track the hitherto elusive transition from functionally compensated cardiac hypertrophy to congestive heart failure, and to determine the degree and selectivity of beneficial cardiac effects of antihypertensive treatment. Three-dimensional echocardiographic reconstruction and Doppler measurement of intracardiac blood flow and systemic hemodynamics are likely to extend the usefulness of echocardiography for hypertension and general population research.