Left ventricular hypertrophy in hypertension: Prevalence and relationship to pathophysiologic variables
In less than a decade since development of echocardiographic measurement of left ventricular muscle mass, studies using this technique have provided considerable information about the prevalence and pathophysiology of left ventricular hypertrophy in human hypertension. Increased left ventricular mass has been found in a significant minority of patients with systemic hypertension, with the exact prevalence dependent both on how a population is selected and on the sex, race, and possibly age composition of its members. All published studies have reported that left ventricular hypertrophy is more closely related to blood pressure recorded in the patient's natural setting during normal activity or exercise-whether measured by portable recorder or home manometer-than to blood pressure measured by the physician. In addition, studies indicate that the classic hypertensive abnormalities of concentric left ventricular hypertrophy and increased peripheral resistance are interrelated, while left ventricular hypertrophy is absent in a subgroup of patients with mild essential hypertension who exhibit high cardiac output and evidence of supernormal myocardial contractility. Conversely, the left ventricular functional response to exercise is inversely related to the degree of hypertrophy. High levels of blood viscosity, which would tend to blunt the reduction in peripheral resistance expected during sleep or exercise, have also been associated with left ventricular hypertrophy in patients with essential hypertension. Echocardiographic studies have provided evidence both for and against the hypothesis that activity of the sympathetic or reninangiotensin systems plays a direct role in causing hypertensive cardiac hypertrophy. These findings demonstrate the useful role that echocardiographic assessment of left ventricular structure and function may play in hypertension research.