Background: This study was undertaken to assess the effect of long-term beta-blockade on the aortic root stiffness index and distensibility in patients with Marfan syndrome.
Methods: Aortic root stiffness index and distensibility were calculated according to the formulas of Stefanadis and Hirai, respectively, with 2-dimensional guided M-mode echocardiogram before and after an average of 26 months of atenolol administration.
Results: Twenty-three asymptomatic patients were studied (11 men and 12 women, aged 31 +/- 14.2 years). The follow-up was 4 +/- 2.2 years. The dose of atenolol was individualized (mean 43.5 +/- 21.6 mg/d). Heart rate decreased from 79 +/- 9 beats/min to 64 +/- 9 beats/min (P =. 01), and systolic blood pressure decreased from 124 +/- 13 mm Hg to 114 +/- 2 mm Hg (P =.01). Distensibility increased from 1.85 +/- 0. 70 x 10(-6) cm2/dynes-1 to 2.21 +/- 0.76 x 10-6 cm2/dynes-1 (P =.02), and the stiffness index decreased from 9.68 +/- 3.78 to 8.85 +/- 3. 15 ( P =.2). Two groups of responses to treatment were identified. Compared with baseline values 15 (65%) patients who responded to treatment had increased distensibility and decreased stiffness index of the aortic root (P =.05). Eight patients (35%) who did not respond to treatment had no significant change. Body weight >91 kg and baseline end-diastolic aortic root diameter >40 mm were significantly associated with no response (P =.05). Two patients in the nonresponding group had echocardiographic progression of aortic insufficiency.
Conclusions: There was a heterogeneous response in the aortic root elastic properties after long-term treatment with atenolol in asymptomatic patients with Marfan syndrome. Stiffness index and distensibility are more likely to respond when the baseline end-diastolic aortic root diameter is <40 mm.