Prognostic impact of systolic hypertension on asymptomatic patients with chronic severe aortic regurgitation and initially normal left ventricular performance at rest
Aortic Valve Insufficiency
Ventricular Function, Left
The influence of systolic hypertension (SH) on the natural history of chronic aortic regurgitation (AR) and the clinical effect of antihypertensive medication on patients who have hypertension and AR are incompletely defined. Therefore, we reviewed the clinical course of 80 unoperated patients who were entered prospectively into an assessment of natural history of AR and its predictors and were asymptomatic with normal left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) at rest at study entry; 30 of 80 patients had SH (systolic blood pressure >140 mm Hg); 20 of 80 patients (16 had SH) used antihypertensive drugs for the long term (not mandated by protocol). During an average 7.2-year event-free follow-up, 24 patients developed symptoms alone (n = 14), subnormal LVEF with or without symptoms (n = 8), or died suddenly (n = 2). SH tripled the average annual risk of cardiac events (8.47% vs 2.85%, p = 0.004). The effect of systolic blood pressure was independent of age, gender, diastolic blood pressure, LV diastolic dimension, fractional shortening, and LVEF at rest (p = 0.004 to <0.008). However, positive prognostic interactions existed between systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure (p <0.001), LVEF during exercise (p <0.001), change in LVEF from rest to exercise (p <0.001), and the contractility index (p <0.02). Among patients who had SH, antihypertensive therapy predicted increased event risk (average annual risk 15.46% vs 3.98%, p <0.02) and remained predictive when analysis was adjusted for potentially confounding subgroup variations at study entry (p <0.03, all models). In conclusion, SH portends poor clinical outcome in chronic severe AR. As a group, antihypertensive drugs do not mitigate outcome, although the effect of individual drugs is uncertain and at least some may be deleterious. The theoretically based practice of giving antihypertensive drugs to patients who have AR requires reexamination.